Pretty sure your browser image cache is getting hammered as a result of these Halloween posts. Good news, this is the last of the Haunted Trail 2020 series and in my opinion the best. Even with all the images we selected for the posts, it still doesn’t cover the expanse of the trail, but it does give a good perspective of what you are in for the night of the event. I’ve already covered a lot of the background in the other posts, so for the Night Walk I’ll keep the words to a minimum.
I did want to cover the changes we put in place to make the event as safe as possible in the midst of the pandemic. From our sampling it was clear most of our friends were really looking forward to the night. Part of that was the chance to see how everyone had been coping during the lockdown. We are a social species and interactions with friends is just plain good for the soul.
Hit the jump to take a virtual tour of our big night!
Safety was at the forefront of our thoughts. Thanks to the size of the event and being outside, we were confident we could maintain proper social distancing if we kept the numbers down to a manageable size. We sent out a survey with our Covid plans along with a request for which day they would be willing to come if we kept the trail up for two additional days. By luck, that produced a good distribution of guests so that worked out well.
To prevent unnecessary congregations, we eliminated the food/cookout portion of the event. This way we would not have to deal with any lines or the use of common food utensils. The focus would be on the trail and mingling at a safe distance. Anyone concerned was more than welcome to wear whatever protective gear they wanted.
The trail was also configured to be one directional limiting people having to pass by each other. I spent the weeks leading up to the party widening all the trails in the woods to increase distancing as well. Our invite explained all the precautions we were taking and left it up to the guests to decide if they were comfortable enough to attend this year. In the end, there were very few that opted to pass.
Friday went off without a hitch. The weather was perfect – a bit chilly, but that should be expected with our fall season. There was a lot of rain in the weeks leading up to that weekend which had us very concerned. The weather gods shined on us for at least the first night.
The second night was a completely different story. Panic set in early Saturday morning when Linda woke me up to inform me it had started to rain. Dammit!!! Threw on some clothes and grabbed a box of 50 gallon bags we had purchased for this very situation. I spent just under two hours putting bags on all the props that were sensitive to being wet.
It rained the entire day – never letting up once. Eventually we made the call to pull the bags off and get ready for that night’s guests. When we powered everything up our worst nightmares came true – compromised power – the ground faults were tripping. A large number of the decorations require AC power which are accomplished via two main electrical runs – one from the house and there is another circuit that was added to the valley when we put our new well in. That’s it, two lines control everything and now one side was completely down.
Troubleshooting something like that is a pain in the ass – there are over a hundred points of failure with all the electrical cords, splitters and the prop connections themselves. Checked a few of the obvious causes and discovered those were sitting in pools of water.
The best course of action was to start at the beginning and test every connection as I went. Unplug the down line, connect in the current prop and make sure it was working. Move to the next prop and unplug the downline, run back to the previous prop, hook in the next prop and then wrap it in a plastic trash bag to protect it the rest of the night. On it went until the problem was found – ended up being the lines at the end where we resorted to house cords – mental note for next year – no house cords if there is any chance of rain!
With that problem out of the way, everything was a go – we even put up our Clamshell to cover the signature prop for the year (the animated coffin opening) – big kudos to Linda for thinking that one up.
The rain continued to come down the entire night, but the guests kept coming undaunted by the weather. The tree canopy does provide a lot of cover and the trails were trying their best to stay firm. At the end of the night they were getting a bit slick – especially on the main paths down and up the valley.
As mentioned in the previous post, the small bridge by the bright spider got very slick. Might have to consider spray painting a texture on the decking to keep people from losing their footing. No issues this year, but I worried about it every time a new guest headed down.
Like the night before, everyone kept each other safe and had a great time. At the end of the night, took a final trek down and powered off all the sensors and put a few of the protective bags back on just to limit the amount of soaking they were going to take overnight. What I didn’t expect was how tired we were going to be at the end of the second night.
Usually we are relaxing with beverages at the end of the one day event – we were through two days and still had one day to go. I remember collapsing into bed completely exhausted.
I can tell you flaming pumpkins work perfect even in the rain! Oh and one mystery has been officially answered – our heat sensors work even in the rain – had some doubts about that going into the night – zero issues.
Woke up the third day to better weather, in fact, it was downright nice out. Trails and props were still damp, but the sun was out and the temperature was the warmest yet. Good thing as I had a lot of work ahead of me. With all the additional rain that came down during the night, the power was once again having problems coming up.
Ugh! Ended up going back through all the connections, ridding the bags of the water that was collected, dried out the connections and closed them back up just in case some more unexpected rain made its way in.
No weather issues came that night. In fact, it ended up being the best night of the three. There were not a lot of guests for that final night. For the effort involved, will probably try to limit it to just two nights next year – we were glad the ones that did come were able to experience the trail – in normal years they would have been left out due to their other commitments.
A year’s worth of prop building, weeks spend staging and building the trail and then the three hard days of the event itself. Talk about a lot of work – in the end ALL WORTH IT!
I promised you less words and I feel like I’ve been hitting you with way too many up to this point. Hopefully you have been enjoying the night shots as you progressed through the post.
Paul brings a bunch of UV flashlights for the guests to use during their walks. Those flashlights make the props really pop against the dark night especially the ones that were dusted with UV paint. A lot of the shots you are seeing here were taken with the UV lights pointed at them.
The new wolf and the old wolf were a nice matched set out there. I am sure our packs of Coyotes were a bit concerned with the intruders.
Not wanting to take the good cameras out into the rain, we relied on our camera phones for the documenting – the phones due not have the full dynamic range of our professional cameras and tended to blow out the lights elements.
One of the scarier animated props on the trail.
The new scarecrow prop for this year – it went well with Paul’s lunging scarecrow.
Camera wasn’t fast enough to stop the moving Clown in the Box – actually this might make it even spookier – just noticed the D was still on the box when we took this shot.
Our first clown Posey was looking good out on the trail.
For some reason the glow in the dark paint didn’t get picked up on the sign (says Free Hugs) even though it really lit up the actual clown prop.
Another one of our props from the clown infestations.
Our new clown for this year. This one had a fully articulated mouth that would move as it delivered its sinister sayings. Now that I’ve figure out how to make my own speaking props, hoping to add that feature to the latest Posey line.
Gah! I can barely look at this terrifying prop. Bad enough during the day, but at night, with clips from the movie playing in the background – yeah, I think I’ll just pass right by this one – quickly!
More of Ron’s fencing. I had planned to make a bunch out of PVC and never got around to it – no need now, these look perfect.
The ground grabber I built a couple of years ago underwent some improvements over the summer months. Think this is the first time it has run flawlessly through the entire event – even soaking wet. Once you get them set up right, those wiper motors run pretty good.
For a relatively easy prop to make, the backlit zombies look really good in the dead of night. Took a few tries, but once I figured out how to get the light to reflect forward, the rest just needed some plywood and a Rotozip. Looking at the shots from this year, it actually looks like it was on fire.
Another of my custom built tombstones. Used this technique to build the coffin for the signature piece for this year’s haunt.
Two for – another of the backlit zombies and another custom built tombstone.
Didn’t get a great shot of this scene. The dog gets lost in the darkness – it is chasing the skeleton up the tree, or were they both running from the zombie?
Watch out for those logs, they can be downright deadly.
A new prop for this year. This animated gargoyle was picked up on sale at the end of last year’s season. Saw it at my friend in haunt Brad’s house and thought it looked really cool – the arms moves with candles and the head bobs up and down as it utters despicable things.
Damn, that demented nun already has a victim.
Takes the light out and hit it with some UV light and you have yourself one creepy dealer of death.
I think the heart in the hand is that extra flair that puts the haunt in our trail.
“Have you seen my body by any chance?”
This was a bit of an inside joke – heads of the executioners on a stick – seemed like a fitting twist of roles although not sure many people got the irony.
Night view of the dead Beatles prop. “Where’s Paul?”
Our zombies keep losing their bodies .. or is it their bodies keep losing their heads – quite the quandary.
Have scary mask, add a blast of UV light and presto, instant nightmares.
Will probably animate this Posey next year, although it did look creepy as a stationary prop.
Now the woods late at night is no place for little girls to be hanging about.
Word has it there are hungry skeleton spiders out and about looking for a snack.
Wow, were these demonic twins a big hit on the trail. Think Paul picked these up after the holiday last year at Spirit. Scary even without the UV floods pointed at them.
More of Paul’s work.
The picture doesn’t really show how the UV paint really pops in dark night. Next year I am going to hit all my props with a light spray – Paul brings UV flashlights for the guests to take down into the woods with them. Place a prop a little further back in woods and just wait until someone happens to shine those flashlights in their direction.
Merchants keep trying to replace Halloween in favor of the more profitable Xmas. We will be having NONE of that.
And now for last year’s signature piece the headless horseman. I was worried the rain would impact the display – pleasantly surprised to learn that it did not affect it at all – kerosene and toilet paper 1, soggy night 0.
As the flames started to die down, the prop took on a whole new evil dimension
Lastly, this year’s signature prop, the animated coffin popper. A lot of work over the course of the year (most of the time spent getting the coffin made and the fully articulated arm of the large skeleton). Big thanks to Ron for helping me finalize the design and getting a number loose ends tied. Let’s just say this prop wasn’t working less than two weeks prior to game day. Talk about some stress.
We had a new patio with a fire pit put in this year (weeks before the party). Think the night of the party may have been the first time we had a chance to use it being busy with all the prep work. Worked out quite nice in the cold rainy weather. Oh, and our fire came with some extra items.
We let the props dry out for a few days before getting everything hauled back up. As if helping to put the trail up prior to the event wasn’t enough, Ron came back over and helped take it all down. Truth be told, I think he enjoys the haunted trail as much as we do – although it is a LOT of work.
Think this was the last haul of the night – Ron found a friend.
Linda pointed this out to me while Paul was packing his stuff up. As if Pennywise wasn’t horrifying enough…I must say this is worse.
So thankful I bought the trailer from my friend – that saved me hours work.
Our flaming pumpkins are a hungry bunch after a long night of scaring guests.
It took about a week to get all the props dried out – quite the soaking. With Linda’s help we were able to get the batteries pulled back out and stowed away for next year. Key for all our props is to design them to pack as small as possible.
Well, that’s all folks. Hope you enjoyed a sneak peek into our Halloween extravaganza.
Until next year!