Highbury Cemetery, 2020

For the first time in 16 years, I decided to change things up a bit in regards to Highbury Cemetery this Halloween. Since our start, we have been a one-night-only trick-or-treat show. That is, we set the entire display up the morning of Halloween, run our full trick-or-treat display, and then tear everything down. Everything done in one night. Miss it, and you'd have to wait until next year.

It was a TON of work that often led to frustration and tension in my quest to put on the perfect show. But this year I decided that enough was enough. With the second year in our new, quieter location, I finally decided to spread it out and start setting up the week before Halloween. It was a bit of a risk, as I wasn't sure if my handmade props would survive the craziness of October weather here in Ohio.

I decided to set up the haunt in 3 phases. Phase 1 would be all tombstone props set up behind my brand new cemetery fencing (which turned out great!!), phase 2 would be to run all electrical cords and lighting, and then phase 3 would be finally adding all characters into the set on Halloween morning as a final surprise to complete the display.

And even with 4 days of rain before Halloween night, I was very relieved when all of my props and lighting made it through unscathed. Halloween morning gave way to sun and slightly warmer temperatures, and we were ready to go. For the most part. I still had the usual last-minute list of things to check off, but it felt weird not being in a total scramble.

With just under an hour to go, we donned our costumes for the night and lit up the jack-o-lanterns scattered throughout the yard. Show time. The only question was would kids show up this year under the lingering threat of COVID-19?

As the clock struck 5, our fears were quelled as costumed kids rushed up the street to the "spooky house from last year." Neighborhood kids, parents, and curious onlookers flowed continuously during the two hours of trick-or-treat. For the second year in a row, my fog rolled perfectly across the cemetery, and this year my lighting was on point. All of my animatronics ran flawlessly. My creepy cemetery audio rang loud across the yard. And my newest prop garnered the most attention as he sat in the center of the display.

But that wasn't even the best part. The best part actually came when the first trick-or-treaters of the night walked up. A group of 4 teenage girls slowly came up, looking cautiously as I stood motionless at the driveway. And that's when it happened. One girl stopped, looked at me and said, "Hey, I remember you from the Haunted Schoolhouse!"

I froze. I couldn't believe it. I had worked as a queue line actor for 2 nights at Akron's Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory, and she remembered me!?!? I was SO stoked. Did this mean I was now...famous?? What a way to start the Halloween festivities!! I rode that high for the next 2 hours!

Trick-or-treat sadly ended just before 7, but we ended up hanging out with a few neighbors and friends, talking and sharing a few beers. It felt so great to have a moment of feeling normal again. Such a great way to end an incredible night all around. And as things wound down, I grabbed my camera and set out to document the night's display before we took everything down for another year. 

Which turned out to be the best decision of the night, as the next day greeted us with high winds... and snow.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the photos from Highbury Cemetery, 2020. But don't sit for too long. There's only 363 days left until Halloween, 2021. Are you ready?

The Harvester of Brine - No. 2
My featured new prop for 2020. A reworked version of my original scarecrow from 2017 - the only piece carried over is the incredible prop head from Closed Casket Studios. A more traditional pose, but a much more sinister overall appearance. I'm REALLY happy with the way this version turned out, although I will have to emphasize his glowing red heart a little more next year. The added cornstalks, jack-o-lanterns, and crows made this the standout center piece to this year's display, and the lighting really upped the creep factor.

And even after 9 years, Little Dustin Horner, my static trick-or-treater prop, still gets neighborhood kids to double-check to see if he's real...

All in all, I would have to say 2020 has been one of the better Halloweens in recent memory. Even in the face of uncertainty, we had 205 trick-or-treaters, parents, and neighbors visit the Cemetery, 25 more than last year! The word is getting out again, and I couldn't be happier.

And of course, I have to thank Sharon, Karen, Laurie, Jenn, Stacey and Vince for helping out in the Cemetery again this year. You have all earned your Highbury Cemetery thank you shirts for another year and I couldn't do it without you. But rest up, because the gears are already turning and I'm going to be recruiting you all again for 2021. Let's do this!!


Evil Vines Cemetery said...

Such a beautiful display! The lighting does look fantastic. I'm glad to see you had a good turn out and a nice evening to share with the neighbors!

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