Newburyport Halloween: An Interview with Jillian McLaughlin Tilley

For this year’s Halloween celebrations, Newburyport resident Jillian McLaughlin Tilley created “Spooky Halloween Homes of Newburyport.” It’s a publicly accessible map that allows Newburyport families to check out all the best-decorated homes in the area at their convenience–allowing for some much-needed community fun.

In this interview, Jillian talks about how she organized the map and what families who check it out can expect. She also recommends that Newburyport residents look up the Nice People of Newburyport Facebook group, where Alison Tames has organized multiple Halloween contests.

Where did the idea for the map come from?

I had been perusing a couple of the local Newburyport Facebook groups and noticed that there was a lot of chatter around trick-or-treat. I have two kids myself–I have a six-year-old and a sixteen-year-old–and I saw that everyone was wondering about the same question: what are we going to do if trick-or-treat doesn’t happen? Because even if it does happen, it’s going to look very different.

I had actually said, why don’t we go all out and decorate our houses? I wanted to get a large following in Newburyport just to do some way “out there” decorating. After that, another Facebook group member [Sarah Willman-Laplante] suggested putting the decorated houses on a map so people could go see them. I can’t take credit for the map idea itself, but that was my inspiration!

How did you plan the map?

I created a Google form and then I asked folks for their address and the date that the house would be decorated. I’ve gotten about 30 responses through the form, and through various other means we’ve gotten about 18-20 more addresses–through Facebook messenger, and my husband and I drove around and looked for addresses too.

What should families who participate expect?

They can pick [to walk or drive] based on the map. I put pins on the map for each house, as well as the date they’ll be decorated. So there’s a couple different clusters where people can park and take a walk around, like the South End. They can also drive around–there’s a house in Salsbury and one in Newbury, so a couple are in surrounding towns.


This year, more than ever, Newburyport families are getting creative in ways that help us all more safely and effectively enjoy Halloween. Jillian’s map is just one of many great opportunities to see the festivities that Newburyport offers. At Newburyport Family Practice, we encourage you to bundle up, dress up, and get out to see some spooky and fun halloween scenes. Whether you go tonight, tomorrow, or on Halloween – we look forward to seeing you (socially distanced) around town.