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Halloween heads attract bodies on rural Brainerd road

A Brainerd lakes area woman purchased hair salon mannequin heads at a garage sale years ago and has displayed the disembodied heads on a picnic table in her yard for Halloween.

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Jaxxon Bahma-Kruger and his sister Peyton pose among the mannequin heads on their picnic table Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, at their home on Smith Road north of Brainerd. With the theme of "Salon Special-A Little Off The Top", the family is decorating for Halloween. Their mother, Nicole bought the mannequin heads at a yard sale years ago in Baxter. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Nicole Bahma about lost her mind when she saw almost a dozen mannequin heads for sale.

“It was the best thing that I've ever found at a garage sale,” Bahma said Thursday, Oct. 21.

The 41-year-old mother of three from Brainerd, who works at Country Hearth in Baxter, snapped up the discarded, disembodied heads about three years ago at a garage sale.

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“I am addicted to Halloween — I have a problem — and find some way of using Halloween with anything, pretty much,” she said of turning her collection of unsettling heads into adornments.

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Bahma’s old mannequin heads on a picnic table — with their fixed stares and expressions — are almost guaranteed to frighten those who gaze upon the Halloween decorations in her yard.

“My son insisted that we put some decorations out and he chose to put the heads out,” Bahma said of her 4-year-old son Jaxxon Bahma-Kruger. “People really like them. I get a lot of comments about them.”

Bahma’s macabre attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor may go over some people’s heads but that’s perfectly fine with her because she is still delighted at her unusual garage sale find.

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“I put out a display with them with a sign that says, ‘Salon special — a little off the top,’ and it’s the heads that are cut off ... little mannequin heads that, like, salons use for practice cutting hair,” Bahma said of the mannequin heads she paid almost $3 each to possess.

Almost 80 million Americans plan to decorate their homes this Halloween season, according to the National Retail Federation. The federation’s Halloween Data Center estimates $2.6 billion total will be spent on decorations, with per-person spending just shy of $30.

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“We just have a lot of fun with it,” Bahma said. “We do a lot of the haunted trails and we do any events that we can find that we can go to. ... My kids usually wear at least five different costumes every year.”

RELATED: Scaring up a Halloween costume can be affordable or pricey Whether it’s a store-bought Halloween costume from Party World in Baxter or a homemade one cobbled together from serendipitous finds at second-hand stores such as The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Brainerd, there’s a price point for everyone.
How the mannequin heads ended up for sale or from which salon they came is a mystery, but Bahma said she believes the garage sale was by a former salon employee. Bahma accessorizes her ghastly collection of mannequin heads with child-sized dolls.

“I just knew that I could do something with them for Halloween,” Bahma said. “And, actually, I've had people wanting to borrow them to play jokes on people.”

While others may be content to use an inflatable ghost in their yards or set out a few jack-o’-lanterns, Bahma used red spray paint on some of the necks of the mannequin heads to make her display bloodier.

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“We saw something there and went with it,” Bahma said. “It was just something different that you don't see all that often. … Nobody’s ever had anything negative to say about them.”

Bahma said she doesn’t plan to part with her heads anytime soon.

“Most people that I've talked to know that I'm not going to give them up. I actually just tried to buy more, but they were too much money,” Bahma said.

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RELATED: Review: ‘The Addams Family 2’ screams Halloween fun Just in time for Halloween, “The Addams Family 2” sequel hits theaters. The animated family-friendly film about the classic TV series about a family of monstrous proportions features the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron and Chloë Grace Moretz.
Bahma said not much frightens her, even going so far as attending the Haunted Hidden Hollows at the Paul Bunyan Land amusement park earlier this month, which is a local Halloween-timed attraction that has been scaring people for the fun of it for more than two decades.

“There was a group of five boys doing the scare, and they had bats and chain saws. And just the fact that there was five of them kind of scared me,” Bahma said with a nervous chuckle.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL .
I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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