Halloween reminders for next year

Every Halloween there are things to remember for next year. Although this list is specific to my setup perhaps some of it will aid with your haunts.


When using zip-ties leave a loop so they can be cut off easily. Leave enough room to get cutters inside of loop.

When attaching light strings, do not use the clips on the light string itself. Use zip ties for consistency which makes setup/take-down faster.

Hang fabric in workshop to air out after being in storage. Although the musty odor is quite pirate like, it is less appreciated after 5 minutes or so.

Plan setup and take-down according to daylight schedule. Daylight savings time switches the weekend after Halloween. The Sunday after Halloween is darker earlier.

Hang ‘Pirate’s Cove sign at an angle. This is attached to a fence and we often match the straightness of the fence line.

Motion lights on porch are too bright. Taking out bulbs is a pain. Shutting off circuit is not practical as the porch outlets are tied together. Come up with some way using blue and grey sheets to reduce the glare of the lights. Need to keep fabric away from hot bulbs.

Take fabric down before the nightly dew settles. Fabric can be stored on covered porch overnight if unable to transport to workshop.

Prop improvement for Pirate lookout tower:

  • Add black fabric around the back to make the character more visible.
  • Use a strobe with a blue filter.
  • Add random scraps of black fabric to base.
  • Use small motors to animate character.

Plot location of ground holes and backstay connections of trapeze assembly. Had trouble finding them after a few years of non-use.

Add a pole to trapeze for another fabric curtain line.

New prop idea… loading crane:

  • Pirate ship is at loading dock so have a crane loading supplies.
  • Use lightweight gatorfoam for pallet prop.
  • Fill burlap sacks with lightweight filler.
  • Position crane over ship so TOT’ers are never underneath it.
  • Animate cargo with slight swinging motion.
  • Illuminate cargo and crane with spotlight.
  • Add character as crane operator.

Brad to stop shaving for month of October for Cap’n BradBeard character. Set calendar reminder.

Place trash can by buffet as some visitors are unfamiliar with where kitchen trash can lives.

Add jib sail to pirate ship.

Add boat flag pennant string from bow to mast.

Purchase blue tarp grippers to help with ship setup.

Setup early enough to take pictures and post entry on Make Magazine annual Halloween contest. Judging (a) Creativity of Idea: 25%; (b) Project Execution: 40%; (c) Quality of Documentation: 25%; and (d) Presentation: 10%

Ensure to have everything setup at least one night before Halloween to check on the lighting. Don’t want to run around fiddling with this and that while the first TOT’rs arrive.

Visit Halloween stores after the holiday to take advantage of steep discounts.


This video is a walkthrough of our setup. Shot in the daytime for visibility many night-effects are lost.

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