Hope everyone had a safe and merry Christmas or related celebration! Thought I would continue my end of year stat pad .,..err, I mean Haunted Trail of Tears recollection posts. If you recall on Christmas Eve I pulled a Tim Burton and provided insights into what it takes to bring our annual Halloween event to life, All that hard labor is for a relatively few hours of entertainment for our friends and family. That and Linda says it satisfies my Halloween obsession for a couple of months, well at least weeks. This lights out tour ended up being a large post. To keep your browser’s image cache from burning up, I’ve decided to break this into two parts. Probably will keep the dialog to a minimum and focus on the images we took after the guests had left and just before that damn rain let loose. Flip the switch off on the moon and queue the scary music, it’s time for a haunting!
Our trail started with Paul’s new blow-up dragon. As mentioned previously, it was too big and too new to subject it to the woods. A perfect way to start, tame enough for the children yet still impressive to see in the blackness
Mr, Spider once again greets our guests as they begin the journey down to the bottoms
Hit the jump to see the rest of the pictures from the first part of the trail.
Of course, it has lost a bit of its luster as the new LED version from Paul upped the spider game. Amazing how bright the new lights are.
Watch out for the 8’+ Pumpkin head. He likes to eat small children that wander too far off the trail.
If you make it past Pumpkinhead, you still have Frankie to deal with.
Our goal is to have something to entertain all ages. This first part is more focused on the smaller kids and sheltered adults. As you progress through the trail things get more frightening.
Guests, especially those with children are always cautioned that it is their decision on how far they choose to go. We charge extra if we have to come retrieve you in a curled up ball with the night sweats.
Of course, if we notice children crying, we tend to celebrate with a drink to the haunt gods. Another one of Paul’s new decorations added to the trail this year.
…along with his new creepy full skeleton. Next year we should put a glow stick in the head to light it up a bit more.
This is one of those situations where the light we add in order to get the pictures works against us. This year we remembered too put out all of the witches (last year we forgot the one we were using to figure out how to dress in the house). Along with the 2am addition of the pedestal for the Nightwing gargoyle, I decided we needed a way to hold their caldron above the new fire prop. Grabbed a few extra conduit pipes that was laying around and tied them together with some nylon twine. Probably over-engineered it (something Linda is always telling me about all the things I create), but I added adjustable couplers at the ends to hold the caldron – this allowed me to insure the pot was level by simply unscrewing or screwing the three couplers – OCD people at work again.
The problem is, when we took the picture, the flashlight Ron was using revealed the trick of the fire. I might add a quick post on this new prop, but the fire was made with Great Stuff on top of rope light. Should probably add some reddish paint so it doesn’t look white in the light for next year. Added the next shot to show you what it looks like without the extra light – super cool.
This was my new splurge for the year. Linda and I came across this dragon skeleton on a quick trip to Big Lots. It was way to expensive, but awesome looking. After mulling it over for a long time, Linda finally dropped the hammer and told me get it .. and not just the littler one they had ,,. nope, the big guy, They eye can be set to blue or red and, of course, Ron put a sensor on it to trigger the built in sound effects.
Another new prop for this year! Ron likes to put out these skeletons are not accurate since ears are made of cartilage and not bone. But, it’s the ears that make these props so creepy.. that and putting them in unnatural positions.
I mentioned my friend in haunt Brad’s super power was skeleton positioning, Like last year he orchestrated most of the skeleton scenes. I also mentioned some of the decorations didn’t get their sensor batteries – the dog below was one of those decs that didn’t get to show off their animations.
Picked up the snake prop at JoAnn’s Fabrics this year – on sale, of course. These well made skeletons are extremely expensive if you choose to purchase them full price. At 50% off it was down to a price point that felt good – Linda on their hand was not pleased this one made it into the cart.
Nothing says Halloween more than glowing severed skeleton heads laying in the grass.
Which means a whole bunch of severed heads on a log are even creepier! Next year we should probably give this a bit of accent lighting – a lot of our guests missed this display.
One of my favorite skeleton scenes of all our trails. Some of my skeletons have taken some serious abuse over the years causing some of the limbs to separate. Brad saw an opportunity to turn that into a plus by simply adding in some additional dog skeletons … notice they have appendages in their mouths,
The spiders were hard at work again this year. This is also a good time to mention Paul brought some ultraviolet flashlights this year. Those things were awesome. They really made the decorations pop in the darkness, especially anything with white on them (like the spider webbing).
Added this winged skeleton from the Home Depot after Halloween clearance sale. Ron added the sensor (bottom right side of the image) the night before.
Skele just hanging out with a spider – nothing to see here, move along.
This prop was added early on in our haunt efforts. Over the years it has become one of the favorites of the trail. It has a number of different sound bites, including a parody of a Men at Work song. It also has a lot of lights that look good against the stark blackness out on the trail.
For some reason the skeleton dog had issues this year. The first year we put it out, the sensor didn’t work very well and would randomly work throughout the night. Last year we fixed it and it worked pretty much flawlessly. This year it went back to the random behavior – no idea what is up with that, but I’ll get it fixed for next year.
Another decoration that looked really good with Paul’s UV flashlights.
Welcome to my lair!
Next year I will be moving this next prop into the graveyard. The plan was to have some pillars built out of foam and then make some fake run down fencing for the entrance. Think this will look good as a Walmart greeter…err.. more like creeper.
Look into my eyes and seal your fate.
This guy has a cool animation complete with lightening sounds and visuals inside the head and hands – tough to capture that with the camera.
One of the Posies got a new costume this year. We had a running joke on whether was a male of female – my guess was an evil nun – and I am somewhat of an authority on that having been educated in the Catholic school system. Oh, make that an evil nun that likes to run ha!
This is the other decoration that will be moved into the graveyard next year – it will sit on the pillar opposite the other greeter from above.
For such a small decoration, this one is extremely loud and has a lot of movement to it – reminds me of the ghost in A Christmas Carol.
We have had a lot of fun with this prop from Paul over the years. Last year we had it under a lawnmower. This year Paul put it hanging out of brush on the side of the trail.
My neighbor gave me a few tombstones to add to the trail this year – looked great in the graveyard – especially with the UV light on it.
My first grave grabber – still looks good out there and this year we solved the problem with the shirt getting into the linkages.
Took and idea I saw on Pinterest and made it my own.
Another tombstone courtesy of my neighbor
Unfortunately, the new Nightwing didn’t show up very well in the picture below. That prop took me most of the year to get working along with big help from both Brad and Ron. They actually fold out and in when the sensor is tripped – Paul and Ron also added the fogger to it to really add to the effect. We might have to hit the fabric on the wings with some UV paint to make it stand out in the darkness better. Honestly, just glad it worked correctly once we got it out there.
My zombie silhouettes got an improvement this year. Rather than messing with the foil duct tape again, found some plastic backing board that I ended up putting on the back. This gave the light a nice backing to reflect off of – muuuuch better.
A closer look.
Another one of my favorite skeleton scenes. Brad staged it, but I did add the bone in the dog’s mouth which I think completes it. The tombstone looked really good out on the trail as well – a big score with this scene.
A good graveyards have a guard dog in them
Okay, there are some decorations that that are last minute ideas that just plain work – the one below is a perfect example. Everyone was commenting on the “Jabba the Hut” decoration – took me awhile to figure out what they were talking about. Turns out Ron had put a pair of my dragon eyes on the shale pile left over from our well drilling. Nice job Ron!
I corrected a mistake I made last year with the new grave grabber. First I fixed the grabber up so the cloth wouldn’t get bound up in the linkages again. It did have a glitch at the very start of the night, but I got that fixed up and it worked perfectly all night. I also remembered to add the tombstone I specifically made for it – you might have to think about it a bit… hint, shorten the first name. Next year I’ll blacken the lettering so it pops out a lot better (like the new headstones for this year).
Here is the other zombie – the light for the camera faded some of the red – in the field it was completely engulfed by the blood red coloring.
Now for the second Nightwing prop with Ron’s gargoyle. I started work on the wings back in March and up to the point at 4am in the morning when Ron and I got the wing fabric on I wasn’t sure they were going to make it out on the trail. Luckily everything came together and Ron was able to get all the electronics working – this was second Arduino prop, but the first to use the new relay controllers.
Another scene from the graveyard.
Hey, it caught the pumpkin (see previous post for context)
Another Posey to frighten our guests.
It’s an animated burning ghoul with sounds and lights – oh yeah, a perfect gift from Ron.
I’m going to break it here and leave the pictures from the back half of the trail for the next post. Hope you enjoyed the first part of the trail shots – you might want to leave the lights on when you go to bed tonight, Check back soon for the second part of the trail – if you dare.