2012 brought one new addition to the cemetery office, which was the floating candelabra in the office window with Dr. Pepper. This new addition performed beautifully adding an extra ghostly ambience in the window. I also made some behind the scenes improvements, one being the magnets I installed to hold the foam top of the graveslab. This turned out to be a major timesaver. Conversely, I had a bit of unexpected trouble with the Axworthy ghosts as the lines kept breaking the 2nd night, and only 1 line (2 ghosts) stayed working on Halloween. Needless to say I will be making some improvements even though our Axworthy typically runs well. Although we had some early snow mid October which made me worry, the weather was extremely nice and we had record temps for the week. The 29th and 30th reached 70 and 72 degrees, with Halloween reaching a high of 75 degrees F. Lows around 46-48F. It was also dry for the entire run and for takedown. A fun thing we were able to do this year with the good weather was was setup a camera to record photos of the 3 main setup days to create a time-lapse video.
This was a big year for additions to the display. Our caretaker/gravedigger got a makeover with a new head, hands, clothes, and his head now turns. The grave slab got repainted a lighter finish and a motor and sounds to make the lid move. Some brand new additions were also added. First The Weeping Widow who mourns in the cemetery over her loved one, the Restless Candle that is carried by a ghost unceasingly searching through the grounds, and Dr. Pepper (our Pepper's Ghost) in the office window. Some smaller improvements were a new conduit pole for the Axworthy to replace the last point that wasn't freestanding, and some of the fence that was missing finials finally got finished. With all the new additions it was a great year, and we even had a surprise visit from the Headless Horseman on Halloween night! The setup days were nice, and the 3 nights we ran were good too with Halloween day reaching a high of 63F and the night temperatures were around 46-48F. It was nice and also dry. There was some rain the following day making the take down a little wet, but overall not bad. We look forward to seeing you next year.
I had no plans to do anything new for 2010... until about 2 weeks before Halloween when I decided to build 5 new tombstones and a grave slab for the side yard. The cemetery now has 20 handmade tombstones, plus the Leota grave slab and Rigby Mausoleum. The Leota name on the grave slab, as well as the W.E.D. (Walt Elias Disney) tombstone are both respectful nods to Disney and the Haunted Mansion who were a large inspiration to create as I do. Thank you Walt for the fascination and enjoyment you have brought to so many. I also modified the pulley for the floating lantern to one with ball bearings and it worked great and was silent and smooth all 3 nights for the lantern. Some new tracks were added to the soundtrack. I really like the haunting sound produced by the harp and chorus, it just seems to fit our elegant ghost movements and theme. We were pushing our luck after so many dry years in a row. The 2 days prior to setup gave me 3-4 inches of snow on the ground. Luckily by setup day (Thursday Oct. 28th) the weather cleared and warmed some with both setup days being dry and in the 60s F. The first night we opened it was mild and nice. The next day on Satuday I replaced the wooden fence posts up the side of the yard with conduit poles mounted in the ground that I could attach/remove the upper fence posts from each year. It was cloudy all day and started to rain in the early afternoon. Trick or treat night on Saturday was quite windy and a steady rain, but it cleared fairly well after 7:30 pm. Sunday the 31st was clear and dry. High temps were 57, low 35, with it getting down to about 47 F while we were open at night.
After not making any additions the last couple of years we finally changed that. We added a caretaker/gravedigger to our cemetery with a newly fabric lined inside to our existing coffin that houses a bucky skeleton. Also the gravedigger's lantern floats up and down as he is unfortunately tormented and teased by the ghost of the spirits of the graveyard. The lantern is actually floating by a line tied to the same motor that drives Eleanor (our FCG) in the mausoleum. I tried to be resourceful with what we already had. It worked pretty well but I am going to replace the horizontal pulley with a bearing type one that won't squeak. Despite the haunted working conditions, our caretaker needs the work and will be back again next year. Another small change was the replacement of the fence finials from the skull whistles to new finials ordered from decorativeiron.com, item 16.2028. These look more realistic and hold up better. We were fortunate again for another mild/dry year, with the display open Thursday Oct. 29th - Saturday Oct. 31st.
No changes made this year, conintued to run everything just as the year before with great results. We setup Tuesday Oct. 28th and Wednesday 29th and the temperature was a nice 62F. Raven Manor operated Wednesday Oct. 29th - Friday Oct. 31st and the evenings were mild and dry.
What can I say other than we were very fortunate weather-wise this year... High temps of 60F, with nighttime lows in mid 40s. The display hours were shortened by 1 hour each night because of the US change to extend Daylight Savings time through the 1st Sunday in November. This means it isn't dark until 7 pm instead of 6 pm. I don't start up the ghosts and sounds until after dark for the black lighting to be effective. Durring the hours we ran the display the temperature was around 48 - 50 degrees F. It was about as good as we could get. There was a high amount of wind on our second night that made me keep the fog machine off, but on Halloween the wind was calm and we had some good ground fog effects. I did some maintenance on the Axworthy drive-system (widened drive-line wheel track) and gate columns (replaced pyramid tops with plastic instead of masonite). The modification to the Axworthy let the ghosts run problem free all 3 nights. The driveline may have also held up better since the temperature never got too cold while running. I also purchased new outdoor speakers from Axiom Audio. These really performed well. Their small size made them easy to hide and work with, but the sound they produced was extremely detailed and lifelike. I had several comments on the soundtrack, and many specifically about the excellent quality of the sound. These little speakers are excellent performers in sound quality, and ideal for outdoor conditions as they are immune to the effects of snow and rain. I had fun this year seeing everything run so well and having the weather cooperate.
I was happy to have 2006 bring dry weather all the way around. Display ran from 6-10 pm Sunday Oct. 29th - Tuesday Oct. 31st. The setup days were beautiful, with the days we ran being colder. Daytime temps of 50F down to 29F for the lows. I would just like to thank all of those who come to visit, especially those that visit each year from a far. Thank you all for your support in this. I hope the display brings many fond memories for years to come.
This year turned out to be very nice. We ran Saturday October 29th thru Monday October 31st with partly cloudy weather; highs in the low 60s, night time temps around 40 degrees F. There was some rain for our setup days, but it was off and on and didn't cause much grief. It was dry durring operating times. Nothing new was added to the display for 2005 as we have run out of room to store much else, at least anything of large scale. I did perform some improvements and replaced the wooden Axworthy supports that used to attach to the house, and instead used conduit poles attached at the ground just like the existing one at the front of the yard. The ghosts ran well this year thanks to the improvements. We continued to use the fog, and added a subwoofer for the soundtrack this year.
Another year with snow on the cemetery. We decided to cut from 4 operating nights to just 3 and Raven Manor was open Friday October 29th - Sunday October 31st and we had excellent weather on Saturday when the trick-or-treaters came. We also had the local news KUTV-CBS stop by for a live segment Saturday night so we stayed open after 10 pm for that. The first two nights were dry but Sunday was the 2nd straight Halloween that we were covered in snow. The winds picked up a bit and the snow continued to come down during the night, but the display ran through it all. New this year was a larger fog machine housed/protected in the mausoleum, with an ABS/PVC pipe fog chiller and distribution system. The fog worked rather well, paticularly Friday and Saturday night when the winds were pretty mild.
It was a busy year for me. Raven Manor received an additional 8 tombstones, bringing the total to 15. I also added the Axworthy flying ghosts which turned out to be a lot of work. This gave us 4 small ghosts flying overhead, including over the driveway where the visitors would walk. As we went to all this work, the setup time for the display started taking 2-3 days instead of just 1. This was the first year we decided that Raven Manor would run more than just Halloween night, just to get a little more enjoyment out of it justified by all the work. To quote the opening narration of The Nightmare Before Christmas, "For the Holidays are the result of much fuss and hard work for the worlds that create them for us". And so 2003 was the first year we operated more than just one night. Raven Manor was open Tuesday Oct. 28th - Friday Oct. 31st for Halloween. The first two nights were pleasant with temps in the mid 40's, and dry. But Thursday it snowed quite a bit, and it continued on through Halloween on Friday. We had lots of snow on Halloween that just kept coming and coming. This seemed funny considering that the name on the last of the new tombstones I finished just before the display was setup, was Elsa May SNOW. Maybe I brought the snow upon myself by doing this? It was an eerie effect with the snow coming down and resting on the tombstones and fence. Everything still and quiet, and the overhead Axworthy ghosts flying through the snow filled night. Now my work to build props to withstand the weather paid off. I shot some video for the first time that night and released it on the website.
For 2002 I decided to add the cemetery fence, gates, and columns. This project turned out to be bigger in budget and time than I first thought. But the end result was worth the effort. Not only does it provide a great look for a cemetery theme, but it protects the fragile tombstones and other equipment by keeping the spectators at a safe distance. Another new addition was the Rigby sign above the mausoleum door. This was chosen because we named our FCG Eleanor, and so Eleanor Rigby seemed like a good identity for our ghost. Our display ran through another dry night for Halloween on Thursday October 31st. The weather was clear, but it got very cold for the setup that day and Halloween night. The temperature that night was about 29 degrees Fahrenheit.
After the wet weather wreaked havoc on our efforts the last Halloween I looked into building some more resistant props on the Internet. I came accross the famouse Flying Crank Ghost by Doug Ferguson and this led to a more constant display for many years. This year was the first appearance of Raven Manor (name and cemetery theme). It also was the shift from me being behind the scenes trying to trigger scares and such, to just presenting a display that ran on its own. Now I could be out front to watch and visit as well. I built our Flying Crank Ghost (Eleanor) and also designed my own mausoleum to display her in. This of course also protected the effect from the elements very well. We made 7 foam tombstones (also rain proof) to complete the cemetery display for that year. The display ran from 6-10 pm on Halloween night (Wednesday). Despite all my effort to build rain resistant props the weather was quite pleasant both that day and night. The neighborhood really loved Eleanor, and we knew we had started something that would continue each year.
1999 (Just like starting over)
1987-1990 (The Early Years part II)
1984-1986 (The Early Years)