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.


2016: Madness on the Midway

 What were we to think when this teaser appeared on October 13?

Step right up! The midway awaits...

Get ready to experience a strange yet familiar carnival crew in a way you've never seen. This Halloween, step right up to our midway where sights, sounds, mystery and madness await... 

October 30 for a preview party
October 31 for trick or treaters

> The Backstory
What's this? A carnival midway has appeared from nowhere. And yet the characters inside seem oddly familiar...

Why, of course, it's the Carnival of Souls, a ghostly traveling show which seems to keep appearing in the same spot on seemingly random years, yet only around Halloween. And this time we experienced an entirely new manifestation of the once vibrant display.

Legend states that the original show, which set up on this spot well over 100 years ago as they traveled along the former railway just up the street, was either run out of town or possibly burned to the ground. Now, as the ghosts of trains past travel the old right of way since dotted with massive power lines, the spirited carnival comes and goes too, perhaps looking for new souls to add to their menagerie. 

Return to the strange history of the Carnival of Souls...
• Spiney returns: 2015: The Return Spiney & the Backbones

• A surprise re-appearance by The Showman: 2012: Picture If You Will 
• Spiney's first appearance: 2009: Spiney & the Backbones
• The original Carnival of Souls: 2008: The Carnival of Souls Presents "It's A Circus"

We're so very pleased you've arrived.

A few sights you might see along the midway.

Treat bags ready to go to the kiddies.

Tricks AND treats, children. Tricks and treats.

The Lady Teller welcomes you.

The Showman stands guard at the old ticket booth.

Want to Chuck-A-Duck or ring a neck? A BOTTLEneck, that is.

Ducks for chucking.

The bucket o' midway game prizes. Plenty of spiders, roaches and bats to go round.

Brave souls trying their hand at our games.

We found Waldo... completely mesmerized just outside.

And how about a tour of our Museum of Oddities?
(Look close! You may note a familiar spine, the oddest of sideshow oddities.)

Our moray eel specimen.

A complete miniature dinosaur skeleton and glowing zombie hand.

Among our "things in jars," some random clown heads. As one might expect.

And, of course, the strangest thing of all—THE Strange Thing.

Turns out this Fun House Mirror is exactly as distorted as you are...

A listing of our many oddities.

And now, a view from the Showman's side.

Guess who was playing the eerie background music the whole time.

You never know what kind of tricks he'll pull.

The Showman wows the crowd with mystery and magic.

Pick a card. If you dare...

The Carnival of Souls wishes everyone a happy Halloween.

Thanks for visiting our midway. Perhaps we'll reappear in another time...

> The Trick
As it became apparent an original idea for this year would not work out, we decided to modify to something familiar. What did we have that would be easy to throw together? Why a carnival, of course. That'll be simple, we thought. But, as we soon were reminded, "we fail at simple." (Which quickly became our new motto.) Before we knew it, we had an entire carnival midway in the making, complete with games and a "Museum of Oddities" shown off by our Lady Teller, plus music and magic as presented by The Showman.

The centerpiece of the show was a large, variably lighted sign that simply read "MIDWAY," a prop borrowed from our haunt industry friends at Pale Night Productions. Setup revolved around this piece, which was transported just the Friday before. Once it arrived, most of the set was built out over 2 days. Simple. As always.

It was quite fun to research and create the displays for our "Museum of Oddities" over the weeks leading up. "Things in jars" are our new personal favorites. And the last minute addition of the "fun house mirror" was one of our more amusing gags, as it was simply an ordinary mirror reflecting each visitor as "twisted" and "distorted" as they happened to be. I mean, don't we all look funny? Haha!

Freaky Fact: The word "barker" was never a proper carnie term. Barkers were those who announced their wares in markets, and the term caught on in the public mind. But in the carnival scene, an individual calling out to draw the attention of curiosity seekers is actually called a "teller."

As a reminder, "The Carnival of Souls" is a double reference to a classic horror film and a lyric in Alice Cooper's song "Stolen Prayer" from "The Last Temptation" concept album. Based on a graphic novel written with Neil Gaiman, this is the story of a young boy tempted by a Showman whose theater, once burned to the ground, mysteriously reappears around Halloween.

Much thanks to mom for help with the kiddies and crowds on Halloween night, and to our church for loaning us the bottle ring toss game and canopy. Plus a huge shout to our friends at Pale Night for entrusting us with their fantastic midway sign (and the truck to get it there), and thus helping us further catch the collective imaginations of our visitors. Next season, please enjoy a visit to their haunt, Raven's Curse Haunted House in Centralia, IL.
Just driving a midway sign down the highway. Nothing to see here.

Ah, the bittersweet of clean up day.
Somehow managed to make short work of things between Halloween sales. : )

> The Treat
With the carnival back in town, we thought it only proper to include carnival ducks in our treat bags yet again. And, much like a carnival game, there was an unusual 1-in-5 chance takers wouldn't receive the same duck twice. The bags also included a special Carnival of Souls sticker along with our usual pretzels and Wonka candies.

Thanks to everyone who joined the party on Sunday and all who came out Halloween night. We loved visiting with neighbors familiar and new, and it was a treat to us to have not only numerous visitors still arriving up to 9:30 p.m., but a rather long line of groups for part of the eve. This was certainly due in part to some remarkably warm and dry weather, but we appreciate both our repeat visitors and curiosity seekers who stopped by on word of mouth. (Just the way a carnival is supposed to work!) Thankfully we had plenty of food and drink for guests to enjoy as they waited. At the end of it all, we were left with just 8 of 95 treat bags, and the rest quickly spoken for.

This year, we also contemplated the wonder of a carnival midway as compared to the loss of wonder we've all experienced with regard to our Creator, and the amazing things Jesus did and does to help us get that wonder back. Behold our special card as printed on some very bright orange paper:

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