The life-size skeletons in front of Andrea Edelman's College Terrace home lean into their ghoulish task, thick chains pulling forward as if to tear the house down. There's Larry, Steve, Oscar, Bob and Tim -- and Katrina, the overseer. Betty Sue, the skeleton dog, keeps a watch over the ossified crew.
Edelman and her boyfriend, Jeremy Watt, who created the skeleton tableau, love Halloween. Only a vacation kept them from putting up decorations starting on Oct. 1, she said.
They are not alone. On streets throughout the Terrace, neighbors have set up elaborate displays, and some keep remnants of Halloween decorations up year round, she said.
"Hundreds of children come through this neighborhood," Edelman remarked.
And when trick-or-treaters set out on Halloween night in search of candy and a few scares, Edelman is making sure they'll know where to find her. She and other Palo Alto residents have marked their homes on trick-or-treating maps created by Nextdoor.com, a website that connects residents within neighborhoods.
The Nextdoor treat map is viewable by anyone signed up through their neighborhood. Candy corn icons mark the spots where Halloween-friendly neighbors will hand out toys, Snickers bars and other treats. Purple haunted-house icons indicate spooky Halloween displays. Zoom out and the map expands to encompass all of Palo Alto.
This map of sugary treasure started last year as a way to connect neighbors after Nextdoor commissioned a Harris Interactive online survey about what Americans think makes for a good Halloween. The results: safety (95 percent); good neighbors (92 percent); Halloween candy (73 percent); decorations (54 percent) and parties (32 percent).
More than 60 percent of parents take their children trick-or-treating and more than half of U.S. parents would participate more in Halloween if they knew what their neighbors were doing, she said. Nearly three in four young parents would feel better prepared for the holiday if they could plan their routes ahead of time.
"Halloween is the quintessential neighborhood holiday -- it is the perfect time to connect with your neighbors while trick-or-treating and rediscover what you love about where you live," Danielle Styskal, a spokeswoman for Nextdoor, wrote in an email. "We developed the treat map because passing out Halloween candy is one of the most neighborly things you can do, and using the map gives you an insider's guide to the best streets for treats in your neighborhood."
Thousands of neighborhoods across the country used the treat maps last year, she added. It can be printed out or downloaded onto mobile devices using the Nextdoor app.
Mike Forster and Susan Cole, who live in Evergreen Park, said they were the first in the neighborhood to put their address on the treat map. Their neighbors used to decorate extravagantly, which made their street a destination place, but that doesn't happen anymore.
For several years, the couple said, no costumed kids came to their doorstep. But with turnover, the neighborhood is again thriving with children. Three years ago, the number of trick-or-treaters climbed from zero to more than 70, and that number jumped again last year to hundreds, Forster said.
"We like having the kids come ... and we like to do treats," Cole said.