This is Halloween...

Welcome to our nightmares and fantastical dreams.

Each year for a few we've done something over the top in our garage on Halloween while tying in a snapshot of the story of God Himself from some pretty unique angles. Preachy? Not so much. Bizarre? Sure, why not?

I learned from the best long ago, generosity gets attention. (No matter where you lived in my neighborhood growing up, on the last day of October you visited the guy handing out Happy Apples.) We also know people love a show. So we try to go big with both.

Here you'll see what a classic rock couple with a taste for the creepy and strange can do with a regular garage, a little imagination and a lot of time.


2013: Peace, Love & Monsters

This year's teaser dropped more than a few hints on our theme:

> Peace, Love and... Monsters?
Dudes, you think it's groovy to be a hippie? Well, sometimes. But what if Sunshine can no longer see the light of day and a Daydream becomes a nightmare? You never know who, or what, you'll run into in the backwoods, especially on October 31...

> The Backstory
Visitors were welcomed to our backwoods hippie camp, greeted by Sunshine, who frequently asked if they'd seen any "biters" out there. Sunshine proceeded to explain some dude totally bit her, and ever since she hadn't really seen the sun. Kind of ironic, given her name. She'd developed a pretty awesome dental condition, but couldn't explain why she was thirsty all the time. Sometimes she'd ask if anyone had anything to drink, or maybe she could just borrow their arm for a minute, baring her fangs with a sinister approach before returning to her senses with a, "Peace, dude! Just kidding. We're cool, right?"

Pointing to the poor soul next to her, Sunshine then introduced her friend, Daydream. Unfortunately he'd also been bit by some other dude, and was more of a nightmare now. Chained by his leg and moaning most of the time, he still tried to strum his guitar a bit, and every once in a while Sunshine could get a real hippie song out of him so she could sing along. Unfortunately if Sunshine ever asked Daydream to "give her a hand" with music or treats, he was happy to oblige in the literal sense. Apparently zombie dudes lack manners too.

The hippies were glad to share their stash with camp visitors, and send them off with a song.

Watch the slideshow. (A 404 may pop up, but it still plays.) On mobile, click "View all" below.:

> The Trick
When the idea of a hippie theme was introduced (most likely prompted by the purchase of Sunshine's fancy denim and rayon shirt at a Michigan antique store earlier this year), the point was made that hippies aren't scary. Ah, but what if the hippies weren't just hippies, but hippies who'd been bit and turned into something else? Now we were on to something.

It should surprise no one that costuming was developed pretty much out of stuff we had lying around, much of it belonging to "Sunshine" since high school, which was actually in the 90s when 60s/70s pop culture experienced a slight resurgence (and she once enacted a hippie vamp playing the "Vampire the Masquerade" RPG with friends).

In the camp we were surrounded by crows, spiders, an owl, a snake and a rat all hanging out amongst real tree leaves and branches. The scene was rounded out by sounds of crickets, a popping campfire and a distant hooting owl (provided by yours truly).

Saavy visitors may have noticed our family of Grateful Bears hanging out in the pup tent. The tent was also draped with a tie dye rag (actually a t-shirt) bearing the famous Grateful Dead logo.

Daydream sat alongside a collection of familiar bones, perhaps those of a past visitor, and the remains of an 8 track may have been seen buried in the leaves.

Our hippies were happy to share portions of six songs, including:
• "For What it's Worth" -The Buffalo Springfield (written by Stephen Stills, 1966)
• "Turn, Turn, Turn" -The Byrds (adapted from Ecclesiastes 3 by Pete Seeger, late 1950s)
• "Strawberry Fields" -The Beatles (inspired by a Salvation Army children's home, 1967)
• "Woodstock" -Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (written by Joni Mitchell, 1969)
• "Truckin'" -The Grateful Dead (1970)
~ and of course ~
• "Sunshine Daydream" -The Grateful Dead (1970)

Freaky Fact: "Sunshine Daydream," from whence our hippie names derived, is actually the coda to the Grateful Dead's "Sugar Magnolia." The Dead would often wait hours or even days to perform said coda and complete the song. Sunshine Daydream is also the name of a particularly themed shop in the Delmar Loop, a trendy local dining and entertainment district.

> The Treat
Of course we gave away hippie ducks. What other ducks would hippies give away? We also included sticker boxes for most, while some older visitors received Halloween themed mini erasers and Halloween stickers from Trader Joe's, who were kind enough to hand us part of a a roll. Snyder's pretzels and Wonka Mixups (now including tiny Everlasting Gobstoppers) made their usual appearances. For a special themed treat we added Vampire and Werewolf "Juicy Oozers" gummies.

Despite a fairly heavy rain that slowed down closer to 8 p.m., we still handed out 56 bags. It was great having regulars stopping by even until 10 p.m. as we were shooting final photos and starting tear down, including a van full of now teen girls who've been coming to see us since they were all in grade school. We love you guys!

To be honest, I wasn't sure how the Gospel would possibly intersect with this theme. But a little prayer and the influence of a recent CCEF class (yeah, hippie vampire studies Christian counseling on the side) yielded a remarkable idea about how people, all of whom are created in God's image, can struggle with our identities and become more like monsters, kinda like these hippies. A subsequent prayer was, "We're really gonna do this, aren't we?"

This year's card was our first printed in color cause it was tie dye, man. Dig it.

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Thanks for stopping by. And, hey, go easy on the candy. ;-)