As in previous years
2009, which see for more background)
I helped out with the local "Haunted Playground" fundraiser in Clarke Park,
mostly providing my
efficient lighting gear and
deploying it appropriately around the main park area. I didn't get too
crazy on taking pictures, but this shows a little more about some of the
backend and behind-the-scenes work that goes into this. Another resident
of the event itself.
Click any small picture for its larger version.
|Set-painting day, a couple of weeks prior: with the skits and scenes roughly defined, the groups presenting them could come paint their backdrop flats.|
|Many new flat frames were made. Since they're thin strapping and insulation foam board, they don't hold up that well over being moved around and only last a couple of years. Thus, some new ones were needed. A few others were patched up with duct tape and painted over, to hopefully survive one more year.|
|Some of our junior volunteers, um, immersing themselves in their work. Hard to say whether the painters or the flats received more paint...|
|As our younger artists finished up and wandered off to play on the nearby mulch pile, other work continued.|
|That's some serious blue!|
|Some panels were plain or abstract, and some received high artistic effort.|
|Those little foam-wedge paintbrushes one can buy in bulk have extraordinarily delicate little shafts holding the frame to the handle, which break easily. Cheap chinese garbage... they could have made this twice as thick without breaking the bank on plastic molding.|
Pizza lunch for the volunteers.
In the background, two of the neighborhood's most efficient vehicles...
|Meanwhile, a batch of "goon shirts" for the security staff were having lettering applied.|
|As flats got finished up and mostly dried, they got stacked into the storage trailer, made slightly less scary inside with some lights attached temporarily to the wall.|
|A quick-n-dirty map of the park layout was generated, mostly so I could best determine placement of things and power runs, and then a group of folks headed over to the park itself for a brief site walk and tour-guide orientation.|
|I took advantage of the rain holding off over Friday afternoon to lay out some initial cables and get some stuff into the air, but the bulk of work happened Saturday morning as people descended on the park with the usual truckloads of gear. Park & Rec had the party-tents up early in the morning.|
|*More* pizza lunch for the volunteers that were on-site during the day, as usual.|
The previous night's rain had stopped, but now the main problem all day was
*wind*. We were getting gusts over 40 MPH and it didn't let up through the
entire afternoon, blowing the tents and "tarp walls" around and making
construction quite a bit more risky and difficult. I kept finding side
support poles bounced right out of their holes and fallen on the ground.
The wet earth in the lawn area wasn't holding guy rope stakes very well, and
we went around double-staking a bunch of them in a valiant effort to keep
Amazingly, we didn't lose any of the relatively fragile set flats even though the tents around them were flapping fairly violently.
|The games tent didn't fare quite as well, and actually ripped up its own stakes and blew over in the middle of setup. Fortunately nobody was under it in any of the wrong places, but its frame got pretty seriously bent up.|
It looked like a showstopper, but enough people jumped on the problem and
managed to push everything back into place and stake things down tighter.
More guy-lines were added on the windward side including using a picnic
table to weight things down [I suggested using a couple of cars], and a
little while later it was all back in business.
The canopy kits are going to need a few new frame parts, though. The wind was strong enough to even shove some of my lights [on the PVC pole] around to a somewhat mis-aimed angle.
|In spite of all this setup proceeded more or less normally, albeit with everything a little behind schedule due to wrestling with these various problems. The Freak Show needed a big pile of props, to which I contributed my two "professional grade" fake-silk-flame lights.|
|The generator in its usual spot, more or less, perched on the highest ground we could find in the very soggy field.|
|Despite its noise, the generator is still needed to power the skit tents through a spider of extension cords. [Someday it might be replaced by a nice quiet inverter and a box of batteries.] It's all a bit sketchy, but no sketchier than the rat's nest of cables and questionably-attached lights at the other end.|
|Another big part of setup, as always, was staking in lots of snow-fence to form crowd barriers and cattle-chutes to herd tour groups through. Slightly different route this year, starting on the other side of the tot-lot area.|
This year introduced a themed moon-bounce, which turned out to be quite
straightforward to set up and run and could even be staked down tight
enough to resist the wind. The fan motor nameplate says 11 amps, so it
pretty much wants its own dedicated circuit. A little creative rewiring
inside the building provided some additional load-splitting for this too.
This also shows how the PA speakers were perched up on the corners of the building roof, getting them nicely elevated off the ground and at one edge of the area instead of trying to cover it all from the center.
|Graveyard construction continued as always; amazingly, no wind-related disasters over there even though it was all right there down by the whitecap-lashed shoreline. The layout was a little different this time, folded into a "U" shape which allowed good surprises as guests rounded the far turn. The underlying [ha ha] idea was to have the entrance and exit near each other for the waiting/meetup convenience of those who didn't want to go through it.|
|Performers arrived and started rehearsing [and last-minute rewriting, no doubt] their skits.|
|A few of our hard-working core staff. It's funnier to snag Janet, err, Helga! when she's *not* trying to pose. The lower-left shot is likely the other side of this scene. And this time we had the venerable Dumbledore as MC, applying his crowd-wrangling wizardry to everything throughout the evening.|
|Dusk fell, and people began arriving to get tickets. Except there was a minor snafu: the bus company apparently "forgot" they were going to run shuttles from the strip-mall parking lot that night, so there was some scrambling while that was sorted out.|
Finally a couple of shuttles arrived and started bringing in the real
crowds, and things could get going.
[This was obviously taken much later...]
|The food area and games/treasure-hunt setup got rolling.|
A send-up of the "Twilight" show, with plenty of melodrama and flying
werewolf parts. I tried to get their crew to actually hold still for
a group shot, which mostly failed...
[Minor note for next year, guys-n-gals: *enunciate*!]
|The dance-school girls and an amusing run of a pop tune appropriately entitled, "Beautiful Monster".|
|An assortment of oddities, including the world's oldest [or was that ugliest? They argued the point all night] baby.|
|And the result of a bizarre bungee-jumping mishap: a hugely stretched neck.|
|Various states of morbidity, preserved under, uh, glass|
|Our good Doctor seems to have found the problem with this poor guy who tried to go swimming in the pond: an alien two-headed snake wormed its way into his innards. Now look at him.|
|Various activities at the games tent.|
|The ring-toss is onto monster hands sticking up out of the sand, and is surprisingly difficult to do without just bouncing it off all those rubber fingers.|
|The graveyard up and running with its usual crew of ghouls and oversize spiders, and despite the wind the pumpkin patch remained quite well-lit this time. Mini glow-sticks dropped into the jack-o-lanterns helped, but the wind had subsided enough that a lot of the plain old tea-light candles stayed burning too.|
|The wind and chill did keep attendance a little lower regardless, and there was a lot of leftover food. Pulled pork!|
|The next morning I decided to make my first task to collect all the traffic cones off the approach road, and while stopped on the bridge snagged some fairly riotous fall color across the pond. Someone was having way too much fun in a boat for much of that morning, too.|
|The kids visiting the playground who had been around the previous night were *still* digging for treasure in the sand -- found some stuff, too.|
|I managed to pull *all* the staples holding the wind-blocking tarps to the pavilion posts without losing any, to dispose of them properly instead of just leaving them all over the ground. Having the windbreaks up early in the process was a *huge* help to the food crew when they came in later, not to mention yours truly while hanging lights in the corners.|
|All the tarps and tent-bits got folded up and stashed, nice and dry this time around so they won't get moldy in storage.|
|We left all the "keeper" fence pieces stacked onto a couple of pallets, where the DPW guys said they'd just scoot them under the trailer with a fork-truck later. This might be fun to retrieve next year but hopefully they're a little more out of the weather than they'd otherwise be.|