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Q&A: Meet a Family in Waterbury That Embraces Halloween Year-Round | Stuck in Vermont | Seven Days

It may be Valentine’s Day, but Waterbury couple Sarah and Jay Vogelsang-Card will not be celebrating with anything pink.

Preferring a darker — and bloodier — aesthetic, the pair were married in 2009 at a gothic-themed “Hallowedding.” They continue to show their love in ways most people would consider more horrible than adorable. Halloween is their favorite holiday, and Zarek, their 12-year-old son, was celebrating it with them before he was born; when Sarah was expecting, she dressed in a costume inspired by the film Alienwith baby-doll limbs appearing to poke out of her pregnant stomach. Jay was dressed as the attending surgeon, with a bag full of bloody-looking toys. Since then, the family has posed in an annual Halloween photo wearing highly creative costumes, from comic book villains to Star Wars characters.

The Vogelsang-Cards live with their Newfoundland, Domino, and their tuxedo cat, Zinie, in a haunted house that dates back to 1852. When they do home renovations, the couple said, a spirit they call the “Caretaker” sometimes makes its presence known. The spooky vibe is balanced out by the cheerful Puppetmobile in their driveway — that’s the vehicle Sarah uses for her work in schools with Puppets in Education, a program of Vermont Family Network.

Recently, Seven Days senior multimedia producer Eva Sollberger met up with the family to tour their unique home and hear the story of how Sarah and Jay met.

Sollberger spoke with Seven Days about filming this episode of “Stuck in Vermont.”

How did you find this family?

I have crossed paths with Sarah for years and featured her in a number of “Stuck in Vermont” videos, like the Green Mountain Derby Dame’s March Meltdown in 2009 and the Burlington S.P.A.C.E. Gallery’s “Art of Horror” exhibition in 2012. I have always regretted not covering their “Hallowedding,” as I’m sure it was a memorable affair. I follow Sarah and Jay on social media and enjoy their Halloween and holiday family photos. I thought they’d make a grand feature.

Tell us how Sarah and Jay met.

It reminded me of the film When Harry Met Sallywhere couples recall their meet-cutes. Jay first saw Sarah at a 2006 Dresden Dolls show at Higher Ground and was in awe of her seven-foot-tall stature — she was wearing platform boots — and bright red hair. They didn’t actually meet until later that year. He spotted her on the street and proceeded to, in his words, “stalk her.” Imagine his surprise when she approached him and broke the ice. Jay was so shocked that he made a strange noise, a “squawk” of sorts. (This part of the story elicited a lot of laughs.) Jay called it “a strike of lightning. It was a once-in-a-lifetime sound, and I think it only comes out when you meet your soulmate.”

Some of their costumes over the years were pretty risqué!

I didn’t have a lot of B-roll for this video, so I dove deep into Sarah’s social media photos. These images celebrate the couple’s bold, visually rich lives. I love all of their pop culture references and was especially tickled to see a photo of them dressed in red jumpsuits as the alien Visitors from the 1983 TV miniseries “V.” Jay and Sarah embrace the horror aesthetic and have posted photos of themselves in which they appear to be doused in blood and eating each other’s flesh.

If you don’t know Jay and Sarah, I can understand being shocked by some of their imagery. But they are the nicest, most down-to-earth, goofy family. And many of their posts are happy family vacation snaps, just like everyone else’s.

Zarek had some great costumes, too.

You can tell from the family photos that Zarek embraces the art of dressing up with aplomb. I was curious how he feels about his parents’ larger-than-life shenanigans. He surprised me when he said his family was relaxed and calm. I got that vibe while we were filming, too. Their house is majestic but homey, with high ceilings. And as Zarek said, “We’re just a normal family, mostly.”

You filmed this video way before Valentine’s Day for a reason.

I contacted Sarah in early January and learned she and Jay would be spending three weeks in California for her six-hour reconstructive foot surgery. Sarah’s mobility has been limited recently due to a neuromuscular disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth. She regularly posts photos on social media with the hashtag #cmtawareness.

When I heard about her upcoming surgery, I figured this was not the right time for a video. But the family was game, and we met up a few days before their departure. Understandably, Sarah had a lot of presurgery anxiety, so I was very grateful that she was willing to make time for this.

How is Sarah doing now?

Jay and Sarah have a big group of friends and have been sharing their journey on social media. After Sarah’s grueling surgery, she has a lot of recovery time ahead of her. Jay is her caretaker — Sarah joked that earlier in their relationship, he signed his name in fake blood, saying, “Yes, I will take care of you!” Sarah won’t know for a while if the procedure was successful, but the hope is that she will be walking, dancing and rocking creepy costumes again soon.

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