See my 2006 video on google videos!
During the 3 months up to the haunt I worked on several new props and additions. 12 new rectangle tombstones and 12 single-plank tombstones were made with wood sourced the same way as last year. I built a Kevin242 designed grave grabber complete with sound and LED eyes… I purchased a 1200w continuous fogger on e-bay and finished my trash-can style fog chiller, I also built a vortex style mini chiller for the 700w fogger from 2005. I purchased a new gear motor for the FCG and rebuilt it’s frame around it. I visited the goodwill store nearly every week and collected interesting glasses and bottles for the witch shop, and filled them with creepy ingredients.
After reading through the skullandbone.com lighting tutorial I knew I had to work on better lighting for the haunt and wound up with 4 blue flood lights (2 different styles) illuminating the yard, 1 red flood light inside the house and 2 clear flood lights adding destination lighting to the trees overhead. I had also purchased 12 tiki torches on clearance at Michaels and painted them all black. They turned out to be an awesome addition and added lots of warm light to balance the blue floods I also built a Scare-fx style 55-gallon cauldron for the witch to cook with. I loved pumpkinrot.com’s scarecrows and decided to make one of my own from trees/sticks found in the woods behind our house. The head was a major endeavor, made from a plastic cauldron, chicken wire and paper mache.. built by myself and painted by Kellie.
I set out the fence 2 weeks prior to the haunt, and assembled most of the PVC figures from 2005. The tombstones were set out over the weekend and the garage as cleaned out. On Sunday and Monday we spent most of the time carving pumpkins, the kids and I also assembled the jug-o-lanterns in an assembly line. I had also finished up the PVC figures and cut sections of rebar that would secure the tombstones. Theresa, my little sister and her boyfriend Johnny drove down from VA again and they pulled in late Sunday evening. Monday evening we were up a little past midnight finishing up the pumpkins which turned out pretty nice.
On Tuesday morning I started setting up around 7:30. Theresa and Johnny were out a little later. . Throughout the day there were scattered showers, we had most of the yard stuff setup already and spent nearly all day working in the garage. The backdrop was made from last year’s pool cover stapled to 1x2s suspended by hooks screwed into the rafters. Every now and then a neighbor would wave on their way by, several stopped to comment on how great everything was turning out. It was a mad dash after 4pm, though everything was in place most of it needed minor adjustments and needed to be plugged in, the candles needed to be lit and the chillers needed to be iced.
It seemed like it got dark too quickly, and I worried that the tots would start coming before we were done but somehow we got it together on time. I was even able to don my costume before the first kids showed up, and Theresa took quite a few photos. Just before the haunt we got a visit from a huge stalk-about whom I later learned was our neighbor a couple houses down the street who had the small haunt last year. Though it’s garb was made from plastic sheeting it was very impressive standing nearly 12 feet tall. Our kids later described how scary he was coming down his driveway at them as they went to tot his house.
I spent most of the evening making adjustments, and trying to keep everything in order. Some of it was spent adding or relighting candles for the 62 jugs and 11 pumpkins, checking and filling fog fluid in the 3 foggers, adding ice to the 2 chillers, and much of it was spent moving the main chiller and fogger from one side of the yard to the other as the light breeze was constantly shifting and there were times when the fog was filling the field next to our house rather than the yard. I also took 30min of video alternating between regular view and “night-vision” and managed to get some pretty good footage.
We received many compliments from the folks who came to visit. Some of them didn’t even have any kids to tot, they had heard from one source or the other that there was this house that they “just had to see” so they jumped in their cars and came over. At several points there was a mini-traffic jam in the street as folks had given up on waiting in line and simply abandoned their vehicles to come see the spectacle. The FCG got the most compliments second to the pumpkins, the grave grabber didn’t get as much attention as I thought it would but that might be due to poor lighting and placement.
We got at least 200 tots, as we gave away 200 glo-bracelets and not every kid decided to take one. Only a few decided they didn’t want to go up to the garage, though several needed to borrow bravery from their friends or parents. Our neighbor who was helping hand out candy at the end of the driveway (for the not-so-brave) was able to abandon her post and hand out candy at her place instead. We didn’t have anything terribly scary, the only thing that could cause one to be startled was the grave grabber, though Johnny would sometimes give them a fright as he loomed in the garage over the cauldron or sat at the reading table. The tot traffic pretty much died after 8:00, we did get a couple more friends who came by to visit including our 19-month old (former) foster son who said “roar!” to the pvc monsters and “boooo” tothe FCG.
Overall it as a huge success, but it was not mine alone. A big thanks goes out to my wife Kellie who allowed it to happen and budgeted the necessary funding. Even though she was mad when I affixed brackets to the dining room walls she later agreed that the FCG looked best behind glass. Also a big thanks goes to Theresa and Johnny, as without them there was no way I would have been set up in time, and the tikis around the scarecrow and to have the garage open across the front rather than using the arch entranceway I had made out of plywood were both Theresa’s ideas. Though I was reluctant to give the entranceway up, it really made the witch shop more approachable and added to the overall appearance of the haunt.. also all the photos were taken by Theresa and her skills as a photographer continue to impress us all. Last but not least, without the folks on hauntforum.com I wouldn’t have had half of the ideas and theories I used to create the haunt… they’re a great group of people who are an excellent resource for both help and support for all things Halloween.
Plans for next year include thunder and lighting, some tweaks to the lighting, additions to the witch shop, a cemetery fence with pillars and more realistic tombstones made from insulation foam. Kellie mentioned that construction on those items begins Jan 1, and she said something about finishing 1 tombstone per week but I think we’ll have to adjust that a bit… until then; happy haunting!