Halloween 2021 – The Incomplete Halloween?

Halloween 2019 marked the end of the tradition of my kids scaring trick-or-treaters and hosting the haunted maze. My kids are all teenagers now and they just wanted to have their friends over for a Halloween party. So, I sold the maze, the graveyard fence, and all of our largest animatronic and static props. Anything that wouldn’t fit through the attic storage access door had to go. There was a lot that I did not complete this year that would have made this Halloween “epic.”

The Complete

Not everything was incomplete this year. Benjamin spent a lot of time, with some help from mom and dad, making his own costume this year. He wanted a 13th century inspired wraith-knight costume. I found a knight helmet in the classified ads that worked out well as a base for him to work with. Ben and I added red, pulsating LEDs inside and he painted it and really did an amazing job on it. Heidi helped him by sewing the tabard and putting the crest that he created on it. I helped him make the tabard look worn by sanding away layers of fabric and using spray paint to make it look dirty, sweaty, and worn. He made his own long sword out of wood and it turned out amazing as well.

Annie did her own face paint this year for school and for Halloween night and she did an excellent job. Tyler dressed up in the pirate costume that I wore when he was 1 year old. They’re all growing up so fast. Heidi dressed up as a Beanie Baby with the other 3rd grade teachers at her school. She was a giraffe, but I won’t share a picture here to embarrass her.

The kids had their friends over for a Halloween party. They had Beetlejuice playing in the theater room, they played Jackbox Games Party Pack 8, and pigged out on pizza, soda, candy, and other junk food.

Ben, Tyler, and I went to Glen Ray’s Corn Maze’s Field of Fright haunted maze on October 22nd to see my friend, Jared, and the rest of The Ghostbusters of SLC. This was the first year that I did not help the owner’s of the corn maze plan and set up their haunted maze. There was a 10-15 minute period while we were waiting in line where there was a natural fog effect as the temperature dropped and the moisture and heat in the soil caused a really cool atmosphere. Tyler was acting scared at first as we entered the maze and was clinging to me, but he started making it a game to give a funny name to all of the haunters that were trying to scare him and he ended up having fun.

Annie, Tyler, and Ben all went with our local church youth group to the maze on October 27th as well.

The Incomplete

I have been researching, budgeting for, and building out a holiday light show for several years now. I want our Christmas display to be as cool as, or better than, our Halloween display. I installed permanent holiday lights/pixels on my home last year between Halloween and Christmas. Maybe I’ll do a separate post about how I accomplished that once I have my light show complete.

The idea is that I can still “haunt” the neighborhood and dazzle the trick-or-treaters and parents, but without me and my kids having to haunt the graveyard or maze and keep unruly ToTs in line.

So, I wanted to do a light show using my singing pumpkins video projections as the stars and have the lights on the house and RGB flood lights on the tombstones synchronized to the songs. But I was thinking the singing pumpkins needed to be BIG. Like GIANT.

Last year we got some large pieces of styrofoam from one of the other Rocky Mountain Haunters. We glued the foam pieces together using Great Stuff expanding foam and started the process of shaping them into giant pumpkins. Despite starting this project in September 2020 I ran out of time and motivation to complete them. One of my childhood best friends passed away unexpectedly and I was asked to deliver the eulogy at his funeral. That was a real blow to my motivation. We also traveled out-of-state for our niece’s wedding. I also wasn’t sure what I was going to carve them with, or hard coat them with, so they were put into storage in the basement.

Fast-forward to this year and we continued carving and shaping the pumpkins until I was satisfied with the results. We used metal curry combs made for brushing horses and some rough 60-80 grit sand paper for the rough carving. Then I used a 120 grit sand paper to smooth out the surface. Hollywood Haunter on and Kara Walker Designs on YouTube had some tutorials that helped me figure out what to use to carve them.

We had three very cool looking giant pumpkins, but how was I going to hard-coat them for durability? From years past you may know that we have used DAP Stucco Patch to coat all of our tombstones and the fence columns with great success. The “problem” with the stucco patch product is that it has sand in it and makes a rough, stone-like texture. That’s perfect for tombstones, but I wanted the pumpkins to be smooth.

So, I experimented with another DAP product called Platinum Patch. The ingredients suggested it was made from the same materials as the stucco patch, but did not have the sand in it. The online reviews and description said it dries “rock hard.” I thought it would be perfect. So, we covered the pumpkins in a thick layer of DAP Platinum Patch and waited for them to dry completely. We waited and waited and waited. It took several days until I felt comfortable with sanding them smooth. After sanding them smooth I noticed that the platinum patch product doesn’t dry as hard as the stucco patch product. There was way too much flexibility and give for me to feel like the pumpkins would be durable enough to withstand being moved around year to year.

So, I got enough stucco patch that fit within the rest of my Halloween budget and we started coating the pumpkins with it. We did not have enough to finish the pumpkins, and there was so much time wasted waiting in between layers of the different patches we used, so they are now sitting in storage, half covered in stucco patch, incomplete, waiting for next year.

In addition to the giant pumpkins being incomplete, I didn’t end up doing a light show for Halloween this year. I could have. In fact, I had a few sequences created in xLights and I stayed up until 2am on Friday, October 29th, running in and out of my house looking at the sequences on my house lights. But I ended up deciding to table the Halloween light show for this year. I’m still learning xLights and wasn’t sure how to set up the sequences to loop automatically the whole night. So, we had a simple display this year with gravestones with static lighting and a “plasma” lighting effect of green, orange, and purple on the roof pixels. Below is a sample video of one of the xLights sequences that I had ready.

Ray Parker, Jr. – Ghostbusters xLights sequence.
It is best to watch it in HD on a large, bright screen. Even then, YouTube’s compression of the video makes it so the colors are washed out on the pixels. There really are greens, purples, reds, oranges, etc. being used, but you just can’t see them in the YouTube video.