For 2023 October was very mild and nice, until right before setup when it rained and dropped 20 degrees. I was again fortunate to have dry and calm days for the display. High temps in the mid 40's with it getting to the low 30's the first copule of nights. For Halloween it was a bit warmer, high of 53 degrees and down to 38 by the time I was closing up for the night. New for 2023 was a tribute monument (a talking tombstone) for Pee-Wee Herman as Paul Rubens passed away July 30th, 2023. If not for Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, both Tim Burton and Danny Elfman may not have had the successful careers they each had. We might not have known The Nightmare Before Christmas movie, or its theme song 'This is Halloween'! Pee-Wee's Big Adventure was the first motion picture project for both Elfman and Burton, as well as Paul Rubens (aka Pee-Wee). The Pee-Wee tombstone opens up every few minutes to play one of 16 different audio clips. It was a fun project. You can see it in action here. I also reworked the floating candelabra mechanism with a wiper motor instead of the original gearmotor. Lastly, I changed out the LED's in each of the mini spotlgihts for a better quality, whiter light (the old ones were too yellow). It was fun to have AtmosFX publish an article on our display for their AtmosFAN of the Week for Oct. 11, 2023. Thanks for visiting and see you next year!
2022 was another great year! The weather was a bit stormy both before and after, but I was fortunate to catch 5 or 6 calm days in the middle for our display. High temps in the upper 50's with evening show temperatures in the mid 40's. New for the year, I was inspired by Derek Young of VanOaks Props to build a raven cemetery monument (how could I not!), and a rocking skeleton. These are both from project videos on his youtube channel. You should check his channel out and subscribe if you haven't already! I also made one new tombstone with the name "Gilbert" for the cemetery. Lastly, I pulled "Dr. Pepper" out of storage and realized he was looking a bit worn over the years. He is our Pepper's ghost since 2011, a mannequin painted in UV paint. I decided to replace him less than a week before Halloween with a TV projection of ATMOSfx videos instead. I mounted the TV temporarily to the wall and continue to use the clear Plexiglass to reflect the imnage out the window. This makes the ghosts transparent. It worked very well and I plan to keep this change going forward. All in all a very good and troublefree year with the props. Thanks for visiting and see you next year!
For 2021 saw the rework of a few props; 1) Our caretaker was redone using the SpiderHill Prop Works 'Watchman' kit (available from SpiderHillPropWorks.com and FrightProps.com). Now he turns from the waste instead of just his head as before. He holds the lantern now too, which I've wanted him to do for a while now. Thanks to GhostRide for getting me a replacement hand to hold the lantern so quickly even during their busy season! They have fantastic service and products. 2) I replaced the old gear motor in my popup skeleton (Lewis) with a wiper motor and a PicoVolt controller from FrightProps.com. This allowed a more random program with pauses and speed changes, than just cycling up and down. I also replaced the slide mechanism with a drawer glide that works more smoothly and quiet. 3) I replaced the gear motor on the Axworthy ghosts with 2 wiper motors. The old system was a single motor with a driveline for each of the 2 separate ghost tracks. That driveline would get snagged or break after use and was a point of failure. Now each track has it's own direct drive motor. This worked great and will be much more reliable. Besides the reworked items, we added a projection screen on the side of the yard for AtmosFX projections. It is about 10 feet wide by 6 feet high, made from 1" PVC with a aluminum U-channel inside the top frame member to keep it rigid. Screen material is the official AtmosFX Hollusion material streched over the frame. We projected from the rear of the screen using AtmosFX's Bone Chillers 1 and 2, as well as some of the new Halloween Hosts. The new screen was a hit and had people gathering near it to watch. The weather was great this year and I felt fortunate that the large storms happened just before, and a small one after I was put away. Highs near 60 and evening temps while we ran between 46 and 50.
For 2020 I added thunder and lightning to Raven Manor and it was well received. I used (4) 100 Watt LED floodlights, (2) on the front Axworthy poles, and (2) near the house to help light it up. The controller is simply the Morris Perfect Storm 2.0 (an inexpensive controller but effective). I used a mixer to mix the thunder sound effects into the main stereo for the overall soundtrack and it worked great. I chose to have it go off about every 5-7 minutes, so it wasn't overdone. I also made 30 mini LED spotlights using Derek Young's tutorial over at VanOaks Props. Check out his amazing YouTube channel for lots of great projects and tips! Lastly, I mounted a 55" TV in the window above our front door to show AtmosFX's 'Halloween Window' and 'Halloween Moon'. They looked awesome! Check out all their products. The weather was good this year- a little cold for setup which I did over 3 days. High for setup days was only 34 degrees. It warmed through the week and Halloween day had a high temp of 58 degrees, with it being low 40s/high 30's in the evening. Despite COVID-19, the display had a great year.
A extremely cold year! We had a record setting week of cold Arctic air the week of Halloween, which made things less than optimal but we still had good turnout all 3 nights. The high temp during the final setup day was in the morning, and only 28 degrees. From there it just got colder as the day went on. It was 25-26 degrees most the day with some decent snow. It came down heavy for a bit in the afternoon but not enough to stick to the ground. By 7 PM when we opened it had fallen to 23, and then to 20 degrees by 10 PM close. The 2nd night on the 30th was between 25 and 26 degrees, and Halloween was the warmest night starting about 32 and then falling to 29. The cold makes power cords and elastic cords more brittle, and is just hard to work in. But I am very happy to have another successful display despite the conditions. In the graveslab pic there is a nice layer of icy frost on top! There was also a gorgeous sunset Halloween night. Our new fog machine is a Froggy's Titan DMX 1500. Froggy's machines aren't cheap but it does seem to be built well, and certainly has output comparible to VEI's V-950. With any machine, I'd recommend Froggy's fog fluid. It is certainly better than most standard fluids.
Another decent weather year, just a little light rain the day after Halloween for takedown, but it was dry all through the display time and for trick-o-treating. It was pretty much the same display as last year. I did add 4 more tombstones just because I have extra material to use. All 4 of them were nods to friends of ours. I also built a faux crate out of some old pallet wood to put the Jock-O-Lantern Jamboree pumpkins on. It was a lot cleaner than using the hay bale from last year. Another minor tweak was using a piece of poly tubing and coupler for the drive-line on the Axworthy ghost instead of the screen door rubber wire I've used since 2003. Hopefully it will hold up better as this was the main point of failure I had to deal with once or twice a night. The only setback was my fog machine that I worked so hard to repair for last year, is broke again (different part than before). I've used the VEI V-950 for just about 15 years, so I guess it is time to buy a new one for 2019. I'll let you know what I decide to get as VEI is out of business and the V-950 is no longer available. See you next year!
*** A note on storing and cleaning fog machines ***
2017 was another nice weather year. Sunny and mild days from setup through Halloween and takedown the next day. High 50s to lower 40s at night. Everything ran really well too- the Axworthy ghosts went without a hitch and we had fog again after replacing the pump in my VEI V-950 fog machine. We added 6 tombstones this year, along with Lewis our skeleton grave popper, and the Jack-O-Lantern Jamboree from AtmosFX. The animated Jack-O-Lanterns were a big hit. Raven Manor even got a small spot on our local ABC morning show "Good Things Utah". It's always fun to share with more people. Thanks for the fantastic year!
For 2016 we again had overall decent weather. It did rain on the 28th for first day setup but it stayed dry while we ran in the evenings. Highs in the mid 60s and evening temps in the upper 40s. The wind was strong on Sunday the 30th and kept me from running the Axworthy flying ghosts. But Halloween was calm and the ghosts welcomed visitors all through the night. We lost our fog machine as the pump seems to have quit working. I hope to have fog again for next year if I can get a replacment pump to fix it. We again had lots of visitors. Thank you so much everyone for your support!
A fantastic 2nd year at our new home. We had decent weather, some rain on the 29th for setup but it let up for the night's event. Highs in the low to mid 50s and evening temps in the mid 40s. Halloween day got up to 65 degrees and was pleasant, other than a little windy again. All ran pretty well, just a few usual type hiccups that needed to be attended to so things could continue. Special thanks to my neighbor Dave Byrd, who took some cool video footage from his drone that I used in the 2015 video. We had lots of visitors, the most so far! Many from the Google map that KSL started. Hopefully they will do this again next year.
Quite an interesting year as it was the first year at our new house and yard. After getting the yard in this Summer, I had to rebuild some of the fence to different lengths and also added a bunch more to wrap the corner of our lot. I spent some time thinking to best fit everything into the new yard and had to cement in the Axworthy and Restless Candle pole bases into the ground. Oh, and the office needed a new piece of Plexiglass for the Pepper's Ghost effect and hooks and pulleys installed for it and the floating candelabra. We added some video projection in an upstairs window which worked out great. The videos are from atmosfx.com and they have great info on there site on how to use them. The weather this year was great with record breaking high temps in the 70s. Halloween we had a high of 77 degrees (breaking the old record of 76), with the nighttime temps still in the mid-60s. It was pretty unusual. The wind picked up on the afternoon of Halloween and caused a little trouble, but we made it through okay. The next day on November 1st I got out to take everything down early. I'm glad I did as the wind started really picking up around 1 PM and was gusting between 60 and 80 miles per hour! The best part about 2014 was all the people that came to see us. We had plenty of great enthusiasm from many new neighbors and wonderful visits from many in our old neighborhood and other areas too. It was a very special year and I want to thank everyone who visited for making it so. Thank you.
This year was one that was bittersweet. We had good weather (high of 52 degrees and evening temps were around 43 and dry) which is always welcomed. Even better, everything ran exceptionally well including the small improvements to the Axworthy system I made since last year (new ghost-line and I replaced some of the spoke type bicycle wheels with spoke-less rims). The tough part was accepting the fact that Raven Manor had its final day at this address. After 15 enjoyable Halloweens at our home, it was time to put it away for the final time as we were moving. We had a nice turnout and I appreciate everyone's enthusiasm and the neighborhood support for the display each year. Thank you and please come visit us in the future at our new address, which will not be far from the old location. Look for details in October 2014 on our Info page.
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 (a VEI V-950). I run it inside the mausoleum with an ABS pipe fog chiller and distribution system that takes the fog out into the cemetery. 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 40s, 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 (starting over)
1987-1990 (The Early Years part II)
1982-1986 (The Early Years)