New Orleans roots inspire Charlemont business’ skeleton Halloween display

  • Wesley and Levi Janssen of Wells Provisions hang out with “The Dude” in front of their Charlemont store and cafe. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Humorous skeletons at Wells Provisions cafe and market in Charlemont. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Humorous skeletons at Wells Provisions cafe and market in Charlemont. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Wesley and Levi Janssen of Wells Provisions with their humorous skeletons in front of their Charlemont cafe and market. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Humorous skeletons at Wells Provisions cafe and market in Charlemont. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • “Mac Bones” hanging out in front of Wells Provisions cafe and market in Charlemont. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/28/2021 4:28:36 PM

CHARLEMONT — The co-owners of Wells Provisions have assembled a troop of skeletal comedians at their store to begin a new Halloween tradition.

Co-owners Levi and Wesley Janssen, who moved to Charlemont from New Orleans on Halloween last year, cherish both the holiday and their regional roots. One year later, their decision to put together a display of 10 plastic skeletons at their 159 Main St. business is a celebration of New Orleans tradition, something they’ve worked to imbue into their cafe on a regular basis. The skeletons strewn around the premises and within the cafe are accompanied by signs with puns.

The display’s deep-rooted influence, the Janssens said, stems from the rich Mardi Gras and Halloween tradition in New Orleans. Wesley referenced the “Skeleton House” on St. Charles Avenue, which is known for boasting similar displays on a larger scale.

“We, in New Orleans, are super into Halloween, Mardi Gras and costuming,” Wesley said.

The couple also emphasized that Mardi Gras celebrates parody as a form of entertainment, which played into their decision to give their skeletons punny names and catchphrases. Keeping their love for wordplay in mind, the Janssens reached their first epiphany on the drive home from a New England Patriots game: the idea to personalize a skeleton as “Mac Bones,” the undead counterpart of rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

“We wanted to make it regional as well so it would resonate with people,” Wesley added.

The co-owners expanded on this desire for regional emphasis by welcoming community contributions. While they purchased the majority of their skeletons from Home Depot, others were donated by locals, along with various props and pun ideas.

“The entire community has been chipping in a bit to bring the skeletons to life,” Levi said.

Thus far, community reception has been positive, the Janssens said, noting that people consistently take photos and come into the building to compliment the display.

“That’s what it’s all about. We’re trying to give people a good laugh,” Wesley said. “Life is serious enough, so we wanted to bring some levity and joy.”

Wesley said she and Levi are looking to expand on the tradition in the Halloweens to come, further channeling their New Orleans pride to bring the community smiles.

“This is just the beginning,” she said. “As the years progress, we’ll add more and more.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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