We planned to do what we usually do for Halloween, turn off the lights and stay at the back of the house, but then just as dinner was coming out of the oven, Ned called and invited us to come over to his friend Greg's house and see what they'd been doing all week.
We stuck dinner in the fridge and drove across town. I chose not to bring my camera, because we were going to see a haunted house, and any picture I would take would spoil the magic by lighting things up.
I've heard about this haunted house that Greg and Ned do each year, but this was the first time we had seen it. Oh. My!!!
Greg and Ned have been making video, making movies, and doing technical stuff ever since they became friends sometime back in junior high. Greg went on to become a professional theater technician and, among other things, Ned makes videos and writes jingles for the radio station for which he works (the videos are for the radio's web site). So this is something they have literally been doing together almost all of their lives.
Ned says they plan and create this haunted house over the week before Halloween, and the work shows.
We drove across Davis, seeing literally no trick or treaters anywhere (in fairness, it was kinda late for the little guys). There were no trick or treaters on the street leading to the turn-off to Greg's street. There were no trick or treaters in the two blocks before you got to Greg's house.
Even if we hadn't been to Greg's house before, we would have known it by the trick or treaters, by the cobwebs hanging all over the house and by the four heads on the ground singing (a projection from Disney's Haunted Mansion projected onto styrofoam heads) and the cemetery you picked your way through to get to the front door.
When you knock on the door, it slowly swings open (I didn't recognize the person at the door, but later it was their friend Sarah, dressed as some sort of a zombie bride) and someone hands you candy and directs you around the side of the house.
There is something to see in each window, whether skeletons lounging in a chair or playing the piano (the controls are behind the wall built to hide the room from the rest of the house), in another window Ned, whose body language a mother recognizes, was in a gorilla suit -- we had missed it when Marta had been there in a straight jacket ranting and raving. From time to time jets of air suddenly blew at you from the bushes. The whole effect was just great, and nothing short of professional.
Inside the house looked like a TV studio, with monitors and controls in one room and a monitor in the kitchen so those who just wanted to watch everyone's reaction on the closed circuit TV could watch it.
Greg's wife Kendra had goodies for the observers, some provided by Sarah's new restaurant, Stone Soup.
What a fun evening. It absolutely amazes me that they go through such a tremendous amount of work--and expense (for starters, Kendra guesstimated that they gave away ~300 full sized candy bars for treats) and that when they finally turned off the lights for the night, they were going to tear the whole thing down and pack it up to be moved back to storage for another year.
As Greg said, it was all about the memories and that even when these little kids who had been scared out of their wits (over and over again, as they insisted on going back around for one more fright experience) were adults, they might not remember their costumes, but they would always remember going to Greg & Kendra's house on Halloween.
And meanwhile, in Santa Barbara...