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View Full Version : Why I keep doing halloween....



lazz
06-02-2007, 01:12 AM
With luck this is close to the intended topic for this forum....

I do halloween for the kids and to show off a little to myself....no gore... no blood... no gross stuff... just plain surprises... I try to target about 500 kids a year.... some years I do close to that other years I go over.... I never know... and it is only the one night... and only for about 5 or so hours....

over the last 10 or so years I have created a list of memories that make it seem worth while for me... so while Im ranting Ill share a couple of those memories with who ever wants to read along....

the first prop I started with is called a trash can trauma ... I have city issued trash cans.. it is a plastic can about 4 feet tall with attached lid... I put an air cylinder and linkage in the can so I can press a button and make the lid open with a mask tied to the underside of the lid.... there is a quartz light in the bottom pointing up.. and an air horn... so you press the button....the lid pops up... the light shines on the mask and an air horn blasts....
this is good for wet pants every year.... one of the first years my daughter was at the controls and here comes a ol blue haired grannie.... I saw my daughter watching the poor ol lady... and it hit me she was going to scare her.... OHHH NO... I didnt want the poor ol lady to hurt herself... or to sue me.... Arggggggg.... before I could do anything about it my daughter triggered the prop... and it worked just like it should....
so the poor ol lady threw her arms in the air..... her purse went sailing into the street and burst open with stuff going everwhere.... she jumped into the air... and landed on her back side with a thump I can still hear....
I ran to help her up.. then I scooped the contents of her purse in a pile and gave it to her.... I apologized and she told me it was fine.... for the next 3 hours she stood across the street and directed kids to go by the trash can... she set them up in a way I could never dream of.... if an ol blue haired lady told you to go over there to get the good candy would you dream she was doing it to scare you? last year was the first year she has missed in nearly 10 years... I dont know her name.... but she comes early bringing someone new to scare... and she spends an hour or 2 here ... what a cool ol grannie....

maybe the second or third year I used the trash cans a little guy got scared by the can.... he was maybe 6 or 7.... and it scared him real bad.... I mean REAL bad.... he threw his candy and ran to his mommies car screaming all the way.... I followed him to the car to make sure he was okay... his mommie asked what happened... I tried to splained the can.. and she just didnt get it.... so she drove her car over by the can... I activated the can it did it's thing... and then from the back seat the little guy locked the door... since that moment I have believed a car door lock will keep out the boogy man.....

the past 5 or 6 years I have put traffic cones on the street to keep folks from parking in front of the house.... so this is the adults watching their kids area.... there is usually a crowd there ... maybe 30 to 50 folks most of the night .... I hang out there thats where the best show is... I carry a radio control to activate props.. it is fun.. I get to heckle kids and life is good.... so 4 or 5 years ago there was a crowd in front of the house... and a teenage 16,17 something girl got her candy and was leaving when she started walking directly away from the trashcans... I told her the neighbors had good candy and she confronted me with a teenage fury.... she was not going near those trash cans... I made her wet her pants last year.... after she made the wet pants statement she understood what she had said in front of a crowd of listeners.... the look on her face was priceless.... the laugh from the crowd was almost cruel.... but real funny....

last year the guy running my magic mirror was pure genius.... with luck he will do it this year also... the line runs down the front walk into the street 10 kids in line is a short line.... 30 is more normal.... so last year one mother was chatting to me as her 10ish year old daughter stood in line.... the mom asked me what the mirror did... I told her there was a guy behind it talkin to the kids .... the mom got an evil look in her eye.... I took her to the back side of the mirror.... when her daughter got to talk to the mirror... the mom told the guy the girl couldnt have any candy till she promised to clean her room... then the mom made several other conditions ... it was a good one... the mom and I went around the crowd and back out front... the daughter caught up to us... and told us how smart the mirror was.... how it knew her name... and all about her dog... all that stufff.... but not one word about the clean room.... funny how some things just get forgotten..... the mom said she will be back this year....

these are a small set of the memories I have of halloween....


oops I moved the pics
http://diyhalloween.net/pics_05/

Macrosill
06-02-2007, 07:57 AM
Lazz,

Those are some great stories. Thanks for sharing them with us.

I am lucky if I get 10 kids to the door on Halloween. I have dreamed of doing a big Halloween show that was somewhat interactive and "scary" but I just don't get the foot traffic. So last year I did a small pupmkin based light show. You can see it on my site, nothing big but it was fun. It was the 1st light show I ever did.

alwysrit2
06-02-2007, 11:03 AM
First, I want to say that I was afraid I would be the only one on a xmas forum doing halloween. I am glad there are others here.
I decorate for halloween to see what I can do. I am a huge Disney fan and Halloween gives me an excuse to see how close I can get to what they do. I don't do gore, I only do a little freight. I am more into telling a story and impressing all ages. I love it when I open the door and there are adults, without kids, watching all that is going on.
I love the freedom Halloween gives. This will be the 3rd year for doing pirates and next year the theme will be Star Wars.
Here is a video from last year. This year will be better :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k63Lq19r4uQ
-Don

lazz
06-02-2007, 01:27 PM
the air cannon and fog machines are a nice effect....
it looks good....

teberle
06-02-2007, 04:52 PM
Lazz,

I am right there with you. I like Halloween because it is priceless to see the look on adults faces when they get scared. I have a similar trash can that has a pumpkin that jumps out, I have a grave jumper and a skeleton that comes out of the coffin.

I probably get more adults then I do kids with the trash can. The best part is when some kid says that you can't scare them and when they walk by the hidden trash can they jump out of their shoes.

zeenon
06-05-2007, 02:19 PM
Well, I love Halloween :) and have a couple props that I'll have out this Halloween. I'm hoping to switch a couple over to the vixen software once a driver becomes available for the Parallax Servo controller. But until then here are the current props I'm working on: www.deadmansinne.com

Z

tconley
06-05-2007, 05:12 PM
Very cool site. I am a long way from there but I am working my way there to my wife's dismay.

KC
06-05-2007, 06:52 PM
I'm hoping to switch a couple over to the vixen software once a driver becomes available for the Parallax Servo controller.
I'm expecting a PSC to show up here next week sometime. Then I can begin testing. So...shortly!

wjohn
06-05-2007, 07:21 PM
Guys,

So great stories and some wonderful ideas.

Like Brian, I only get a small number of visitors to our door on Halloween. THe holiday is not really that big is OZ, but is becoming more so.

I thought that I would use Halloween as a test of my controllers and do some singing pumkins and some dimming for floods and effects with some strobes thrown in.

The idea of a pressure mat to trigger events would be great, just need to work out an interface and have KC come up with a plug in ;-)

joeberg
06-10-2007, 10:00 AM
Great Stories Lazz. I did a Halloween display last year during testing while getting ready for Christmas. Basically just Singing pumpkins, but I would love to do more this year. I would love to see more ideas for this year. You can see the videos at http://www.holidayautomation.com/videos.php. They were my first captures, so they are kinda crappy, but you get the idea.

Joe

tconley
06-10-2007, 10:19 AM
My old roomate and i started decorating for halloween a few years ago and it just keeps getting bigger.
The first year we basically just brought the decorations from his room out of the lawn and dressed up and added black light. It was a hit with the neighbor kids they ask us 6 months before if we are going to decorate again.
I have now built a fo stone gate 10 feet by 12 feet and fill it with smoke and i came out of the smoke last year to give out the candy. my roomate sets up a table at the curb where he tells ghost stories and scares the little kids. He asks if the can give him a had and when they say yes he quickly reachs under his chair and pulls out an electric chainsaw to make hand collection more easy. The kids usually run screaming and the parents say get um. He has about 300 feet of extension cord he cases them with. We had at least 300 kids come by last year. Every year it gets to be more and more.
This year i am building a haunted hall way behind the arch that the kids will have to go down to get the candy. It will be made of black and white fabric and lots of strobes to blur their vision. I will then have other kids hidden in the hall way dress in the same material so the become invisible. As people walk by they will reach out and scare them. There will be dangeling bit of fishing line and other things to excite the senses as well. The floor will be covered by a fog from my fog machines through a homemade fog chiller.
should be a good year with the lighting effects i am planning as well.

jeeves55
09-20-2007, 11:41 AM
I've been doing Halloween for the past 5 years or so. Mostly building and creating my own stuff. Most of our tombstones are homemade. And last year I made Joe Black. A winged reaper that stands about 13' tall once put together and on his pedestal. And last year was the first year with a full walk around. I had people, things, and a path. And the end was a scare tent. A 10 x 20 foot tent completely covered. Two fog machines blowing in smoke, and props of severed hands, feet, and heads in bags hanging from the ceiling. And the best part was the grim reaper. he was dressed all in black, and stood in the corner very quiet. he would listen and sneak up on you, and just as you were about to exit, he'd scream. I had people, kids, and adults alike, running and screaming all the way down the driveway and down the street. It was awesome. And the tent was in the back, behind the house. So when you went in, you didn't know why people were screaming out!

lazz
11-05-2007, 12:04 AM
---begin sorta long rant---


halloween has come and gone again.... this year is changing how I think about halloween....

each of the years past I do something that creates a memory of the night for me....

3 halloweens ago was a big memory night.... I was in the house getting refill of coffee and when I came back out front the guy running the mirror was having a girl bounce around to get some candy.... watching her she knew what he was doing and she was putting on a show for him.... that was too adult for the crowd Im aiming at.... so I headed off as fast as I could to stop things... and a couple young parents stopped me.... man I knew the jig was up.... I could hear the morality complaints before they said a word.... I decided to hear them out and just plainly take my lumps....

so mom starts off on how their 2 kids 4 and 5 years old just didnt get into halloween yet... but because of my display halloween will be a great thing for them.... mom and dad came thru the line early and 2 hours later the kids just could not stop talking all about the mirror ...so they came back to tell me about their experience ... the guy running it made the boy scratch the mirrors chin to get candy and the lil girl had to give the mirror a little kiss.... those 2 parents claimed I made a little event into a grand thing for their kids.... they came back last year too and this year as well.... those parents were the last real big kudo I got....

after the adult stuff I changed the mirror operator ... that caused some hard feelings...

2006 nothing major happened... other than the first year my youngest daughter and my partner in crimes yet to be named couldnt make it.... chicago to phoenix is a little bit of a commute for halloween... this year neither daughter made it home...

no one wonderful thing happened this year... in fact if you use the memory standard the last 2 years were not major successes ...

I have been wondering if what Im doing is getting old.... maybe the crowd doesnt think it is all that good any more.... this years numbers were off too over 100 fewer kids.... so I have several doubts.... and while IM on the subject of old.... when I turned 50 I was worried how many more times can I climb that stupid ladder to fix those damn ghosts ....since then several years have past proving getting old sucks.... so I wonder how many more halloweens do I have?

things look kinda bleak dont they?

2 things happened this year..... I dont know if they are good or not... only time will tell....

the first thing was...
I made people curious about how I did things....many..... in the realm of 30 different men and women ( mostly women) asked how could I make those pumpkins talk....

the second thing was....
people want to be involved next year....offers of help... young men wanting to learn how to do the stuff I make look so easy.... one young lady claims C is her preferred language even for her english homework.... after every thing was done a couple of those young high school kids brought their moms back to show them what they were going to work on next year....

so who knows... it is a wait and see thing.... so folks being old sucks at lots of things.... but I now have patience I never dreamed I would have...
sweet and sour... all at once... :P

---end sorta long rant---

Macrosill
11-05-2007, 08:14 AM
lazz,
I am sorry to hear about your outlook on your Halloween display. I noticed you seemed to key in on the negatives of the display. Each and every one of us does things for a different reason. I personally do these displays for 2 reasons. The 1st is because I enjoy doing them. It brings a feeling of accomplishment and I learn new things everyday of the year from everyone in this community, including you. The second reason I do it is the feeling I get when a child watches the show and has that special look in their eye. I have just created a memory for them, and myself. With that being said lets take the second reason and bring it into the foreground. You mention there were over 100 less kids this year. I am lucky if I get 20 kids in Halloween. How many kids did come? And how many of them will remember their visit to your singing pumpkins on Halloween 2007? This is a selfless hobby with no monetary reward, only emotional ones. That is the big payoff for me. Now you have neighborhood kids taking an interest in what you do and are offering help. They want to learn and it is all because of the memories you have given them. That is probably the biggest and best compliment you could ever get. Would you really want to deprive a child of such memories in the future? And think of the memories and the looks on their faces when they help with next years display and things work that they built or put together. It sounds like a winning situation to me.

Just my opinion.

lazz
11-05-2007, 08:27 PM
we had somewhere around 400 kids with at least that many if not more adults....

I apologize I did not mean to dwell on the bad....

I guess I am trying to describe the change....
in no way was this years halloween experience bad... just real different....

teberle
11-05-2007, 08:33 PM
Lazz,

I have to agree with Brian. I have been doing my display for the past 3 years and expanding each year. I get repeat customers who continually bring their friends and some folks no longer live in the neighborhood but come back every year just to see what is new. It is really fun to hear the kids talking about the display and how awesome it is. That is after all who it is for!!!

Tony

Macrosill
11-07-2007, 02:12 PM
.....
in no way was this years halloween experience bad... just real different....
Thats what I was hoping to hear. :wink:

TED
11-10-2007, 05:12 AM
3 halloweens ago was a big memory night.... I was in the house getting refill of coffee and when I came back out front the guy running the mirror was having a girl bounce around to get some candy.... watching her she knew what he was doing and she was putting on a show for him....

after the adult stuff I changed the mirror operator ... that caused some hard feelings...

I think I need to set up a magic mirror. Can you send that guy over to my house next year? :wink:


I have been wondering if what Im doing is getting old.... maybe the crowd doesnt think it is all that good any more.... this years numbers were off too over 100 fewer kids.... so I have several doubts.... and while IM on the subject of old.... when I turned 50 I was worried how many more times can I climb that stupid ladder to fix those damn ghosts ....since then several years have past proving getting old sucks.... so I wonder how many more halloweens do I have?

things look kinda bleak dont they?

so who knows... it is a wait and see thing.... so folks being old sucks at lots of things.... but I now have patience I never dreamed I would have...
sweet and sour... all at once... :P

My grandmother used to talk about being too old. She'd say things like, "I'm just staying around here too long." (Meaning that she had lived too long.) I can't remember when it was that she started saying these things. I remember after her 79th birthday she told me that she wouldn't really be "old" until the next year when she turned 80. So maybe it started when she was 80 or maybe it was earlier. in any case for many years she would say that she had stayed around too long. Also she would say that her mother used to say that it was no fun growing old and now she knew what it meant. She lived to be 96.

The point I'm trying to make is that you seem overly fixated on being "old". You might be starting that a bit early.

TED

TED
11-10-2007, 05:18 AM
You mention there were over 100 less kids this year. I am lucky if I get 20 kids in Halloween.

I was thinking the same thing. Last year (2006) was the first time to get ANY trick or treaters. This year there were maybe 20. (I didn't count.) While there were some that seemed a bit greedy the majority of them were polite and said thank you.

TED

Adam I
11-12-2007, 05:29 PM
I try to dwell on the positive not the negatives.
We don't get that many trick or treaters out in the county, but we always get several complemtes on what we do. I have started hearing complements at the grocery in the near by town pop 97+/-.

This year I projected movies on the house and had several vehicles stop and watch.
Next year I'll setting up a small setting area for viewing.

I'm still doing it for my kids and my enjoyment, but I am also doing it for others.
Even the ungrateful ones.