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Kerry Paradise Slaughter (second from left) with friends at last year's "Slaughterhouse" Halloween event.

What started seven years ago as a small neighborhood gathering has blossomed into a Lake Highlands Halloween institution.

Realtor Kerry Paradise Slaughter of Prudential's Paradise Slaughter Group thought it would be fun to have a little get-together on her family's front lawn. Dubbed "Slaughterhouse," it's part client appreciation event and part block party.

"The first year we just wheeled out the grill and did hot dogs. We invited neighbors to bring a chair and we set up a community table," Slaughter said. "The table was full, the yard was full, and everyone had a great time."

Every year has gotten bigger and more involved, and last year they added a fundraising component. Change buckets were passed around soliciting donations for a new playground at Lake Highlands Elementary. Their goal is to collect $800 for the cause.

"We invite all of our friends to come, and when our kids started school it went out to all of their classes, on our facebook group page we invite all of our facebook fans to come. I feel like we add another component every year," Slaughter said. 

This year's party almost didn't happen, though.

"We almost didn’t do it this year, and instead we were going to do a more conventional client appreciation event," Slaughter said. "When people heard that we weren’t going to do it, the response was overwhelming."

 

As it should be. The Slaughter family has packed in tons of fun into the evening. There's a movie showing with theater seating and hay bales and plenty of food and drink. You can bring a side dish to share with friends and neighbors, and a costume contest is planned with awards in several categories such as "Best Thinking Man's Costume."

But as the party's grown, there's been a bit of a learning curve for the Slaughter family.

"Last year was so big that we had to bring in porta pots," Slaughter said with a laugh. "We had some strangers in our house, and that was a little odd."

The beneficiary will be the Lake Highlands Elementary Playground Project again, Slaughter added, so bring some pocket change to leave behind, and leave room for plenty of food and warm fuzzies, she said.

"Our kids look forward to it, our friends look forward to it," Slaughter said. It’s a big community feeling and I love that."