Martins Pond Haunted Playground   2010

As in previous years (2008, 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 likely provided better coverage of the event itself.

Click any small picture for its larger version.


Set painting day @ park & rec barn 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 flats got framed up 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.

Kids wearing some of the paint Some of our junior volunteers, um, immersing themselves in their work. Hard to say whether the painters or the flats received more paint...

Work continues, kids on mulch mound As our younger artists finished up and wandered off to play on the nearby mulch pile, other work continued.

Seriously blue shelves That's some serious blue!

Nice artistic ghost-images on panels 'Spidora' concept in the making
Some panels were plain or abstract, and some received high artistic effort.

Cheezy chinese brushes break easily 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 Pizza lunch for the volunteers.

In the background, two of the neighborhood's most efficient vehicles...

Goon shirts, 'MPA STAFF' Meanwhile, a batch of "goon shirts" for the security staff were having lettering applied.

Storage trailer, better with lights inside 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.

Quick site map of park Short site walk for tour guides
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.

Event setup and run

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.

Pizza lunch for volunteers *More* pizza lunch for the volunteers that were on-site during the day, as usual.

serious wind problems, tents and tarps blowing tent support poles continually falling down
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 things upright.

Amazingly, we didn't lose any of the relatively fragile set flats even though the tents around them were flapping fairly violently.

Disaster strikes! The games-tent blows over 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.

Enough people pushed games-tent back up Recovered: games-tent back in business
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.

Building the 'freak show' set 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.

Generator on high ground clear of swampy place The generator in its usual spot, more or less, perched on the highest ground we could find in the very soggy field.

Rats nest of wiring, sketchy way to hang lights 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.

Cattle-chute formed of orange snow fence 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.

Pumpkin-shaped moonbounce, down Pumpkin-shaped moonbounce, up
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.

Ongoing construction in graveyard 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.

Rehearsing positioning and skits Performers arrived and started rehearsing [and last-minute rewriting, no doubt] their skits.

Helga the kickass Viking Purple witch outfit
Costumed staff taking pix of each other Dumbledore as MC
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.

Ticket line begins forming 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, the shuttle buses arrive Finally a couple of shuttles arrived and started bringing in the real crowds, and things could get going.

[This was obviously taken much later...]

People crowding into food area Fairly lively attendance in the games area
The food area and games/treasure-hunt setup got rolling.

The skits:   "Twilight"

'Twilight' skit running 'Twilight' skit crew
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 skits:   School of Dance "beauty salon"

Entrance to dance school 'ghoul beauty salon' She's a beautiful monster
The dance-school girls and an amusing run of a pop tune appropriately entitled, "Beautiful Monster".

The skits:   Freak show

World's oldest/ugliest? baby An assortment of oddities, including the world's oldest [or was that ugliest? They argued the point all night] baby.
Longest neck And the result of a bizarre bungee-jumping mishap: a hugely stretched neck.
Nearly-dead, in jar Various states of morbidity, preserved under, uh, glass
Alien guts, two-headed snake 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.

Games-tent left Games-tent right, fortuneteller
Various activities at the games tent.

Ring toss, surprisingly difficult 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.

Graveyard up and running Pumpkin patch, well-lit despite wind
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.

Leftover food, pulled pork! The wind and chill did keep attendance a little lower regardless, and there was a lot of leftover food. Pulled pork!

Sunday cleanup

Riotous fall colors over pond with boat 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.

Still digging for treasure the next day The kids visiting the playground who had been around the previous night were *still* digging for treasure in the sand -- found some stuff, too.

All staples pulled from tarps on pavilion 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.

Folding tarps and tent parts 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.

Stacked fence pieces at 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.

_H*   101019