Halloween this year felt a bit off at first. Over the past year I had been dealing with severe arthritis in my knees - I actually started feeling it more after last year's Halloween, especially setting up the cornstalks as that requires so much kneeling - and so I made the decision to scale back the display. I opted not to set up the cornstalks with the scarecrows and pumpkins and to focus more on the cemetery. With the help of friends to bring everything up from storage and start the setup of the cemetery I got off to a great start allowing me to then take the remaining time before Halloween to work on the details and lighting - some of which I had not had time to in previous years. The big addition this Halloween was a full size monument featuring a robed skeleton with a sword. It looked great and drew many comments.
Just prior to Halloween I was contacted by a local news website about sending out a photographer and doing up an article. It went great and the when the article hit the web it went viral in Brampton and was even mentioned on the radio. This lead to a HUGE turnout Halloween night! There were lots of drive-ups - people who had seen the article online - and the street was packed with cars. They couldn't move and it was total gridlock up and down the street! Crazy! The official count was 464 trick-or-treaters plus if you factor in the kids who were too scared to come up to the door and some visitors on Sunday & Monday I'd say we broke the 500 mark for kids and for adults it was easily over 1000! That's literally double what we normally get on our very best years!!
My wife, Sandy, and my daughter were both huge hits with their costumes. Sandy, again in her ghostly lady outfit, would sit perfectly still in the cemetery and wait for a could of fog to envelop her. Only then would she change position or move to a new spot. It was just like a ghost disappearing and reappearing and caught many people off guard. Meanwhile, my daughter too made an impression - she would silently stalk from the driveway, cemetery and front walk - creeping up behind people. She really freaked them out. I heard many comments about the girl in the mask and that she was so scary they didn't want to go near. I'd say her new costume was a huge hit and she posed for a tone of photos. Afterwards I asked her if she had fun and she said "that was AWESOME!!" As always, I want to thank both my mother and mother-in-law for all their help handing out candy to the horde all night long. Given the turnout it was a job well above the call of duty. I couldn't have done it without them.
All told, it was a hugely sucessful Halloween! It felt a bit weird not being in costume as the vampire or having my usual cornstalks set up but in reality probably very few people other than me noticed them gone. Hopefully next year I'll bring them and the scarecrow scene back. Having my friends over to help set up worked out great and I'll probably continue that in the future - the haunt has just gotten to the point where it is too big for one person to do it all. I'm already looking forward to next year and what it will bring - it will be hard to top this year that's for sure.
Setup - Help From Friends
Even though I was planning on scaling back the display due to my arthritis, I was more worried over how I was going to bring everything up out of storage in the basement as climbing stairs has become a pain - literaly. Enter Haunter friends for the rescue! I put out the word and had a great group of friends from the Canadian Haunters Association show up and together we got everything all out of storage and most of the cemetery set up in a matter of hours! All I had to do was stand there and point so in just one day the majority of the cemetery was all in place leaving me to work on details and lighting. Haunters are the best!!
Photographer Carl Chalupa, who was out to help setup, took some shots of the cemetery. Even not 100% finished he made it look incredible! Thanks, Carl!
Halloween 2017 Punjabi News Feature
During the chaos of Halloween night a local Punjabi TV station showed up and started filming. I was intitially turned off as it seemed they were getting in the way of the trick-or-treaters and the camera lights overpowered the haunt lighting I had carefully arranged but it turned out pretty cool. It was been broadcast on India's largest television network as part of the Foreign News. Neat to think of the exposure the haunt would have gotten as an example of Halloween festivities in Canada!
The Curse of Juliette Blackstone
My daughter, Maggie, has been helping out as a scare actor with the haunt for some years now and she really gets into her part. She gets such a huge kick out of scaring the kids and adults - especially teenagers. This year she wanted to up the ante and be really scary so we ordered an amazing shattered doll mask from Cellar Door FX and an old fashioned looking dress from a seamstress on Etsy. When the pristine white dress arrived I tore and distressed it before stained and weathered it using tea, paint and fake blood & grime to make it nice and nasty looking. I also got her a cast replica of an antique cleaver to complete the look. She came up with the name herself and once in costume was so spooky many didn't want to go near her and screamed when she snuck up behind them! She's already won a costume contest put on by Cellar Door FX and is in the running for Best Female Scare Actor with the Canadian Haunter Awards.
She lived and died in anguish
Halloween Night 2017
News Article and Photos on inBrampton Website
Click here for a link to a news article and photos that was put out on the inBrampton website and social media. Featuring some absolutely amazing photos by Wil Yeung Photography it really caught fire and was shared around leading to record attendance this year! Some great reviews were posted on the iBrampton site...
"We went yesterday... It was an amazing scary experience. I like the picures and shelf full of scary things... Hats off!"
"I use to teach their daughter. Loved taking my kids to see her place! I'll have to pay a visit again this year."
"My family has being going to visit this house for the last 3 or 4 yrs for Halloween. Definitely a favorite and a sight."
"We should be all grateful for homeowners like Hector Turner and such, whom spend so much time and energy making these holidays fun for kids and family. There's so much depressing news all the time now, it'll be nice just to escape from it all for one night. I tip my hat too all homeowners and people who help make these holidays enjoyable for all. I can't wait until my Fiancee and I get our first home together so we can contribute to our community as such. Cheers!"
Comedy Short: Clear Aligners Are For Everyone
Another fun thing that happened this year is I was approached about using the yard cemetery display as a background for a comedy YouTube short from Cackle Productions. Hilary June Hart and her crew came out and we set up and did the shoot over a few hours one night. They used my wooden coffin along with some tombstones and candles to set the scene. I was kept busy working the fog machine on cue. It turned out awesome!
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