MARYSVILLE — About 60 years ago, a Lynnwood man made a kid’s Halloween by handing out full-size candy bars.
“I’d look forward to it in September,” said Stephen Fay, 72. “When school was starting, I’d go, ‘Halloween is coming.’”
He’s paying it forward.
Today, the U.S. Army Veteran is the full-size candy bar man in his Marysville neighborhood. He and his wife, Vivian Fay, bought their home at 5303 143rd Place NE in October 1999.
Not only does he buy the big ones, Stephen Fay brings home hundreds of pounds of mini candy. He jams pumpkin buckets to the brim.
If his fingers touch when he grabs a handful, he said, it’s not enough. If a kid’s bucket is too small, he’ll use it as a scoop.
On average, Stephen Fay fills two or three shopping carts full of candy.
This year, the Fays spent close to $2,000 — nearly five full carts, he said.
In so many ways, the past year has been different.
The Fays are not strangers to hard times.
A few months ago, Stephen and Vivian Fay’s oldest son, Eric, got in a motorcycle crash that left him with a cracked skull and broken limbs. The Daily Herald reported on Eric Fay’s previous streak of bad luck in 2010, when his house caught fire while he was recovering from a broken back.
Vivian Fay lives with physical disabilities from a stroke, and Stephen Fay, who bears a footlong scar on his chest from heart surgery, takes care of her.
The husband served two decades in the Army, including two tours in Vietnam. He is still learning how to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Some days are easier than others, but Halloween is the best.
“It takes a toll on you,” he said. “But I’ve figured out how to deal with it. I treat kids nice. … I enjoy life.”
Stephen Fay does it to pass along the joy he felt as a child.
“We used to be dirt poor, but we couldn’t afford dirt, so that’s the only time I ever saw candy,” Stephen Fay said.
His personal favorite? Butterfingers.
Some of the kids who trick-or-treat at his home are the children of those who came to his door two decades ago.
“You’re doing this because of the kid that you were,” Eric Fay said, looking at his dad, Stephen. “Think of how many kids are going to want to do good in the future.”
In 22 years, Stephen Fay hasn’t turned away a single trick-or-treater.
“I don’t mind the teenagers,” he said. “I’m 72 and I still like Halloween.”
He also remembers some special interactions.
About seven years ago, Stephen Fay recalled, a kid showed up on his doorstep hours after the others had gone home. The kid told him his dad got home late. Stephen Fay gave him what he had left: a full bucket.
Another time, a kid with a pail full of candy bars ran away yelling, “You were right!” about the massive amount of candy at the house.
According to the National Retail Federation, this year the average American plans to spend about $100 on costumes, candy, decorations and greeting cards.
The Fays are well above average.
Today in the Fays’ living room, 10 neatly stacked plastic storage bins sit filled with Tootsie Pops, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s bars and Snickers. Each bin weighs about 40 pounds.
With all of the problems in the world, Stephen Fay said, the kids have “got to have a bright spot somewhere.” He hopes his house can be that bright spot.
Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BredaIsabella.