Teen-aged Halloween enthusiast: 'Let me tell you a scary story'
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of Halloween – or a sweeter lover of spooky – than Patrick Jordan of Fresno.
It’s a yearlong celebration for this 19-year-old, and every holiday in the Jordan household gets a touch of terror from his collection of animated Halloween props: the skeleton butler, the lurching zombie, the swinging swamp hag and the creepy caretaker, to name a few.
Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter – he is always sneaking them in from the garage and begging to have them set up for a few days!
Paula Jordan about her son’s love of Halloween decorations
Costumes also come out at unusual times and places, like when he went to church months before Halloween dressed as Miss Hannigan from the musical, “Annie,” wearing a getup that included a dress and whistle.
He was born extraordinary, and his love of Halloween is, too. Jordan has Down syndrome, a condition that causes delays in development due to extra genetic material. His parents love him just the way he is.
“He just brings us so much joy. … He can be stubborn and try our patience, too,” adds his mother, Paula Jordan, “but he just always finds the little joys in life and loves to just make people laugh.”
Every person I’ve met who has Down syndrome has that infectious joy … they are definitely enjoying life, and I think we can all learn something from that.
He uses Halloween to spread joy. Jordan isn’t trying to scare people. He spends hours rearranging his ghostly gang of props on the front lawn each Halloween to make sure his visitors have the optimum experience – one he hopes will leave people feeling happy and even inspire some to “hug and kiss” the scary plastic decorations.
He’s dressing up as a policeman this Halloween. (For those planning to trick-or-treat at his north Fresno home, be forewarned that he will arrest all “the bad people.”)
He’s also fascinated with “The Phantom of the Opera” this year, and recently snuck a phantom mask in his backpack to share with friends at school.
Of why he likes the phantom, Jordan says, “Well, he’s hurt, all the people making fun of him and his ugly face. He blew it, he tried to love the other girl, (but she didn’t love him back) because the phantom was being mean to people. He was trying to get love, but he just hurt.”
One of his takeaways: Be nice to girls to get dates. Jordan gets plenty. His mother says he usually gets lunch dates with various women after church at least twice a month. He’s also got a “forever fiancée,” Alison Rangel. Never mind that she’s actually married and has taught him about Christianity since he was 4 years old in her former post as assistant of youth ministry at Hope Lutheran Church.
Jordan helped his forever fiancée revive her grandmother’s annual Halloween party, which stopped for a while after her grandfather died.
“He helped build the haunted house that my grandma does,” Rangel says, “and that day building, it was stormy out and windy, and he was like, ‘Don’t give up, we’ve got this! We have to! It’s Halloween!’ ”
His enthusiasm ensured the project’s successful completion.
He is like the definition of pure joy. If you don’t know what that is, you look at him.
Halloween also inspires his philanthropy. One year, he asked trick-or-treaters to help homeless children by depositing a quarter in a bowl held by his skeleton butler prop before handing them a piece of candy.
He acquires his Halloween decorations by earning points from his parents for doing well at school and helping with chores. Deciding on his annual Halloween prop purchase begins with extensive online research in the summer and culminates with a trip to a Halloween store, where he carefully inspects and videos each option. This year, he settled on the boogieman.
His Halloween shop visits, at least twice a week, helped him land a work-study job this year through Clovis West High School at Spirit Halloween at Cedar and Nees avenues in Fresno. His colleagues knew him by name long before his first day on the job.
“He just makes you smile … he appreciates the simple things,” says Kelli Tigh, manager of Spirit Halloween.
Of his love of blinking, talking props, his mother says, “I think he’s just totally fascinated with how they move.” The fascination has frightened him on a number of occasions, like when he visited Disneyland on Halloween a couple years ago, but the fear never lasts long.
“He loved ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and he wanted to go see Jack Skellington, and so we went on Halloween and went to the Haunted Mansion. He cried through the whole thing,” Paula Jordan says as Patrick laughs boisterously, remembering this Disneyland ride. “And he came out and he said, ‘I want to go again!’ ”
“I did not poop my pants!” Patrick offers while laughing so much he throws his head back in delight.
When asked to describe himself, he is kind and honest: “I’m very happiness, joyfulness. I do steal bananas from my mom’s breakfast.”
It’s a small trick for a young man offering the world lots of treats this Happy Halloween.
Trick-or-treat at Patrick Jordan’s house
Patrick Jordan will be passing out candy to trick-or-treaters – and displaying his collection of animated Halloween props – on Halloween evening, Oct. 31, at his home located at 369 E. Audubon Drive, Fresno.