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Halloween 2005

This was our best year yet; we had more visitors than ever before, and we scared a few of them badly enough they left parts of their costumes behind (hat, sword, and some kind of armband thingy).  We regularly got groups of 25-35 coming through together, which limited the effectiveness of some of the frights.

I started setting up around 8 am and finished around 4 pm, with just under 2 hours to dark.  My father came over to help between 9 and 10 am and stayed until after we picked up.  This year it  took about an hour to get the bulk of everything back in the garage for the night and about 8 hours on Tuesday to put most of it away.  We left the columns, fencing, and pirate ship frame out overnight.  All of the props were brought in, including the pumpkins on the porch.

The pictures below primarily show the general setup.  I had a few props that I couldn't get working this year, so I will try to get them ready for next year (my new solenoid valves would not open with more than 20 lbs of pressure).   If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

The pirate ship was an experiment for this year.  I wasn't at all sure that it would work out.  Based on how it looked this year, I think it is worth trying again, but I need to make some changes/additions.  My wife suggested an anchor.  My uncle suggested a crows nest and rope ladder.  We'll see what we can put together for next year.

The lawnmower man was inspired by a design I found on Scary Terry's site.  He does a very good job of explaining how he constructs his props and I am sure mine would have worked better if I had actually followed his directions.  Instead, I chose to be "inspired" and deviate from his design a bit.  Mine worked, but not well enough.  I have discovered the problem, but not in time to fix it for this year's show (I built it Oct 30, so I didn't have much time for testing).

I moved my air compressor to the basement and used roughly 100' of air hoses to deliver the air to the storage canisters for the props.   We also used a gas-powered generator to provide some of the electricity.  I blew the circuit breakers repeatedly last year because of the way my house is wired (all accessible outlets seem to be on the same circuit).  My uncle was visiting last week and suggested using the generator since it needs to be run anyway (for yearly maintenance purposes).  It worked beautifully.  Thanks Uncle Doug!

Setup is complete, with light to spare.  Here a daylight view from the street.

Another view from the street, looking towards the corner.  I added two new sections of fence this year, but based on the cut-through traffic from the main road, I need an addition 6-10 sections next year.


Here is the lawnmower man.  Looks great at night.  If only the legs were working properly.  At least it will still seem new next year!

Night view from the street.  The camera I am using doesn't take great pictures in the dark without a flash, so sorry about the "washout" effect.  Note the "flame" sconces on the columns.  The blue/purple windows are made by hanging a white sheet in each window and two black lights in front of each window.


Second night view from the street.  Can you see the spider web?  Look behind the zombie cloth.

Night view of the lawnmower man.


A dead guy leaning on my new coffin (his neck is still loose because I haven't put in his batteries yet).  Notice the gun-like thing beside his right leg?  It is an air-powered washer.  I removed the nozzle and hooked it up to a solenoid.  The dead guy is actually laying on an air tank.  When triggered, the gun will send a blast of air at whomever is on the sidewalk.

The tall skull is light from within with a greenish/white LED.  The "spewer" is throwing up a mixture of water and the ink from four big highlighters.  The black light at the right edge of the picture will make the highlighter ink glow, for a nice overall effect.  The puke is launched using a standard 12 volt bilge pump.


Day view of the pirate ship from the street.  You can barely see the skeleton captain.  The "wheel" turned about 20 degrees using a windshield wiper motor and springs.  The captain's hands are attached to the wheel to look like he is steering the ship.

Here is another daylight view of the pirate ship, from the rear quarter.


Here is a night view of the pirate ship.  There is a strobe light immediately below the captain, helping draw attention to him, although it should be a bit higher next time.