Highbury Cemetery, 2017

Another Halloween season has now come to an end, but not before one last glorious crescendo that is Highbury Cemetery. This year's haunt display for our neighborhood trick-or-treat will rank as one of the best for many reasons.

We had a perfect evening of dry, crisp autumn weather, bookended by cold, miserable rain on either side of Halloween night. Coupled with the problems that our friends on the east coast had with the damage from their stormy weather, we were very fortunate and very lucky to dodge the same bullet. Although, I must admit that I did stop and laugh when I saw a few snow flakes falling during our hectic afternoon setup.

We also had a night that was free of the typical haunt display snafus that we had suffered in the past. No electrical problems (like the time my new 1300 watt fog machine tripped the breaker in my house causing half of my cemetery lighting to go out, only to have my led lights cycle through the circus-like range of color choices against my tombstones when the circuit was reset) or any real prop issues (like the year when my shiatsu ground breaker's arm broke off half way through the night, only to lay lifeless next to a twisting head inside his half unburied coffin). The only casualty was the round ball on the top of the Highbury obelisk that broke off after a brisk gust of wind knocked it off. A relatively easy fix for next year.

And finally, we had a near-record breaking amount of trick-or-treaters, parents, friends and curious neighbors. Even on a weeknight, the hordes continued to enter through our cemetery gate and didn't let up until the very end of the night. Add to that the number who showed up with donations for our first annual canned food drive and our night was a complete success. I was blown away with the amount of food that was donated in a two-hour window, and I know that it will help make a difference in our city.

When the last trick-or-treater departed at roughly 8:45 pm, it was time for the final act. A quick canvassing of the entire haunt with my camera, and then 11 people tore down the entire display in record time, leaving no trace of a haunt display that was fully operational just one hour before. The amazing show had come to a close for another year, but not before a whirlwind of Halloween madness and fun that was had by all.

Late that evening, I transferred the photos over to the computer. I sat in a weatherbeaten, exhausted, crumpled mess and giddily scrolled through the shots that I had just captured. Each photo elicited the joy of the evening's fun. I fell quickly asleep that night, smiling in the satisfaction of another successful year of Highbury Cemetery.

So sit back and enjoy the photos from Highbury Cemetery, 2017...

The Harvester of Brine
With literally hours to spare, I completed this new vine-laden scarecrow figure. He took his place at the foot of the cemetery entrance, exposing a glowing, salt-withered pumpkin heart inside of his rotted chest cavity to all who dared walk by.

I was REALLY happy with the way he turned out, especially under the dramatic red and orange lighting. I may look to add a small white spotlight next year, just to better define the arm that pulls back his shirt and exposes the glowing red led heart. Look for a full post on the Harvester of Brine in the very near future!

The VERY recently refurbished shiatsu ground breaker worked flawlessly all night, garnering much attention and many compliments from his position at the top of the cemetery!

The Highbury Crypt
With a few minor adjustments, the second year of the Highbury Walk-In Crypt was a big hit. The crypt, which was set up in my front porch, was the final destination for the trick-or-treaters, as they had to walk in to get their candy. I pulled the lighting way back this year, creating a much more ominous tone. The darker room also gave more attention to the illuminated stained glass window in the back wall as well as the two corpse-filled Highbury crypts on either side. A steady stream of mildew-scented fog kept the atmosphere nice and creepy!

My 5-year-old son's super cool jack-o-lantern! I'm slowly bringing him into the Halloween fold...

After all was said and done, we had roughly 489 trick-or-treaters, parents, friends and curious neighbors through the cemetery gates. I say "roughly" because there were times that there were so many people coming through at once, we couldn't count them all. In the two hours of trick-or-treat, we had a constant flow of people coming in and out, many hanging out to see all that we had on display.

And as always, I have to thank each and every member of the Highbury Cemetery crew. Without their dedicated help, there would be NO WAY that Highbury Cemetery would be the yard haunt that it is today. Glow-in-the-dark thank you Highbury Cemetery t-shirts go out to Sharon and Karen (two of the three of us available to somehow get the entire display put up in time for the first trick-or-treaters who showed up - I absolutely could not have done it with out you two!), brother Scrapes, Andrew, neighbors Joe and Stacy (whose yard is slowly being taken over!), Vince and Stacey Rager (our new official Highbury Cemetery family members!!) and Mike from Castle Boulevard (you snuck out before I was able to give you a shirt - I'll have to drop one off at your house!!). A very successful display thanks to you all.

But we aren't done there...

The First Annual Canned Food Drive

As I said earlier, 2017 was our first year as a charity haunt. I decided to do some good for the community (as many other home haunters have before me), and run a canned food drive to support the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank during trick-or-treat. I created a special announcement sign and placed it, along with my new "coffin for a cause" in my front yard about two weeks before Halloween. I also posted the photo to our local neighborhood Nextdoor app.

The response I got was overwhelming! A neighbor dropped off a huge box of lollipops to add to the special treat bags given out to all donations (the treat bags consisted of a glow-in-the-dark "I filled the coffin for a cause" square button, a plastic jumping spider, two fun size candy bars and a lollipop).

During the two hours of trick-or-treat, a non-stop line of people came up and dropped their canned food donations into the coffin for a cause. I was so happy to see kids dropping their cans into the coffin!

At the end of the night, all of the food and cash donations were tallied. And I'm incredibly happy to announce that we collected 143 items of food and $74.30 in monetary donations!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who donated! With this donation, we are making a positive impact together in our community. This has reinvigorated me and has given me a new purpose for the yard haunt. I can't wait to do this again next year.

Now let's collect twice as much for 2018!!



spookyacres said...

So excited to be part of the family!!! We love coming up and helping out!! This year's t shirts are amazing!!!

wicKED said...

I have said it before...one of the cleanest and beautiful Haunts I have seen. I am amazed you put it up in one day and tear it down the same. It takes me most of the month of October to get mine the way I want it. Well done man! Your lighting and photos are outstanding!

Lady M said...

Excellent pictures and haunt. The food drive is a great idea and the number of treaters at your haunt is amazing. I was pleased to get 30!

Pumpkin5 said...

Awesome haunt this year! Wow! I love the idea of "Filling the Coffin"....I think I will "borrow" the idea for my haunt this year and do a fill the coffin for animals. My neighbor owns a doggie daycare/training/boarding facility and she does all kinds of drives to raise money for local shelters and rescue organizations. That is such a wonderful idea to do something for the community, Halloween and happiness. So cool!

Evil Vines Cemetery said...

Once again Highbury Cemetery looks beautiful! I am amazed you get it up and down in one day. I am continually tweaking the lighting and such for weeks, and in one night your set up looks fantastic. Really nice photos - love the new Harvester of Brine! So happy you had such a good turn out and lots of donations too! Thank you for the inspiration. Now it's time I to get to work on 2018!

highbury said...

Vines, the only downside to being a one-day haunt is that I don't have time to adjust my lighting. For 2018, I want to add some white mini spotlights to the Harvester of Brine so that people can see his chest cavity and glowing pumpkin heart better. And year 3 might be the year where I get my crypt lighting just right!!

highbury said...

And good to hear from you, Pumpkin5!! I was actually thinking about collecting donations for our local animal shelter this year! Feel free to "borrow" my idea and do something super cool for your community. Just be sure to share your photos with me!!

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