Skip to main content

At This East Hampton House, It's Halloween All Year

Tue, 10/31/2023 - 10:27

They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky — but this isn't the Addams family we're talking about. They're the Social Skellies, a front-yard installation on Route 114 in East Hampton that started as a Halloween display in 2020 but has since become a platform for social commentary and parodies of pop-culture phenomena.

The living, breathing human being behind the skeletal displays is Emmie Greene, a lifelong East Hampton resident who lives in the house on Route 114 with her mother, Penny Benbenek.

Ms. Greene is the ultimate fan of Halloween.

Part of Emmie Greene's Halloween display this year riffs on the names of roads and places: Three Mile Horror, Bucks Kill Rd., Ghoul St., Old Bone Hwy.  Emmie Greene

"I thought, 'What if I kept them up year-round?' " Ms. Greene said in an interview this week. "That year [2020] was a bad year. It was Covid and there was George Floyd and it was a [presidential] election year. . . . You couldn't really go anywhere, so it sort of transformed at that point. I said, 'I'll make my statement from my house.' "

A June 2021 display  Durell Godfrey

She creates parodies of popular television shows, movies, and celebrities. But Ms. Greene also likes to tailor the displays to timely awareness campaigns, politics, and social-justice issues. She parodied President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris; she made signs urging donations to the local food pantries and Hamptons Community Outreach, and she has also expressed views on women's rights, abortion, depression and suicide awareness, L.G.B.T.Q.+ rights, and more.

"I try to put stuff out that hopefully people enjoy and that makes them smile and think," she said.

While no topic is off limits, she said, "We haven't put anything up about the Israel-Palestine conflict yet, because that's very hard right now."

At least one of her signs has elicited a tangible response: "Watch out for big-ass pothole," read one sign placed in front of such a pothole several weeks ago. "That gets the Highway Department out" to fix them, Ms. Greene said.

The skeletons are not the infamous 12-foot-tall decorations that are usually sold at Home Depot this time of year. "These are just regular five-foot skeletons," Ms. Greene said.

The October 2021 installation  Durell Godfrey

They also have their own Instagram account, @SocialSkellies. "We don't have too many followers, but I feel very strongly about my skellies and it's a nice way for me to do some self-expression," Ms. Greene said.

It would ordinarily seem like the perfect house for trick-or-treaters to visit, but because it's on a busy main road, she doesn't encourage it. "I would love to leave candy out, but I don't want anyone to get hurt," she said.

Ms. Greene hasn't received negative feedback, but she does get people pulling over to take pictures every now and then. "We get lots of honks and waves," she said.

But most people just speed past the house at "pretty much a million miles an hour," she said. "I want to put up a sign that says 'drive like your skeletons live here.' "


New Manager Takes Stock at Food Pantry

Noah Gualtieri may be new to the job of operations manager at the East Hampton Food Pantry, but he is hardly new to the work of the pantry.

Feb 22, 2024

East Hampton Village Board Turns Its Thoughts to the Spring

Basketball courts, the farmers market, the May Day 5K, and the Hamptons Whodunit festival were topics of interest at Friday's meeting of the East Hampton Village Board.

Feb 22, 2024

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Names New Chief Administrator

Emily Mastaler, coming from her previous role of president and chief executive officer of River Hospital in Alexandria Bay upstate, has "extensive healthcare knowledge, clinical expertise, and ability," the hospital said in an announcement on Wednesday.

Feb 22, 2024

Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.