Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Last Post for 2014!

Hey guys,

Alright. So, as the title suggests, this will probably be my last posting for the year and I thought I'd go over a couple of things.

First, I thought I'd talk about what our goals for the year were and discuss if they were accomplished.

  1. Completely automate the pneumatic props. Yes! We did it! All four of our pneumatic props, Coffin Guy, Andersan the Tombstone Breaker, Vampire in a box and the newly constructed Ground Popper were completely automated. I programmed them using PicoBoo Prop Controllers and they worked flawlessly.
  2. Build a new pneumatic prop. Yes! The Ground Breaker was awesome, but he did have his challenges. He didn't move as violently as I wanted him to. The reason was faulty building on my part. I failed to realize how all that violent motion would impact the prop and less than an hour into the evening he broke! He broke his wrist and threw out the alignment in his back. I was able to fix this but I had to slow him down considerably to manage operation throughout the rest of the night. This made him look less scary in my mind but people seemed genuinely freaked out by him.
  3. Build new column toppers to replace the destroyed ones from last year. Yes! We built them and they looked brilliant.
  4. Build a New, Old Gate. Kinda! We did build most of the new gate, but in the end, didn't have time to build the "gate" part of the gate. So, what we ended up with was a new Hollinger Hollow Cemetery sign. As it turned out, the sign looked so good we may not bother to make it a gate next year so I'm gonna say this was accomplished.  :)
  5. All original tombstones. No, we didn't replace all the store bought tombstones. This goal was, in truth, not achievable. We have a lot of store bought tombstones and the Hollow is pretty big. Add that to the level of detail Lynn is putting into her tombstones and there was no way we were going to be able to replace all the store bought ones. I figure in about two or three more Halloweens all the tombstones will have family names on them.
  6. Fix the tree. Well, no, but it really didn't need fixing. Yes, it still is leaning more than I would like, but the tree actually looked pretty good. So, we just put it in the yard and you can see it in the video walkthroughs. So, nothing really to fix here.

Second, I'd like to share some thoughts on the year.  Mostly, because this blog is my way of taking notes for next year!

As you can see above, we really did finish everything I thought was important at the beginning of the year. So, as far as getting everything done that we thought was important to having a great year then this year was one of our best.

I'll even go further by adding to the list of things done. For the first time ever, our props had sound! The Twins Tombstone had the sound of ghost babies crying. Ground Popper sounded like a struggling zombie. Vampire in a Box (aka Sarcophagus Guy) sounded like a demon trying to escape. Coffin Guy screamed like a crazy man when he opened his casket lid. We even got the Projector Tombstone working, sound and all.

But, there were some flaws. 

The sounds weren't nearly loud enough. We'll have to figure out a way to amplify the sounds if they are ever going to add to the scare. 

Of course, I already talked about how the Ground Popper broke an hour into operation and we had to slow him down to keep him from breaking again. We had a similar problem with Vampire in a Box. His lid was opening and closing so fast that the sound of the wooden lid slamming on the wooded frame made conversation on the bridge impossible. To counter that, I had to slow down how often the lid opened and closed. Again, something that should have been scary was a little less scary due to a lack of planning. To counter that, Coffin Guy and Andersan the Tombstone Breaker weren't fast enough and I would have sped them up but that would have thrown off the sync in the sound so I left them alone. Another case of scary not being scary enough.

Then there is the matter of the turnout. Hollinger Hollow has in past years had anywhere between 600 to 1000 visitors. Sadly, this year, we came in around 200 to 300 people. Last year, we were so excited because Halloween was on a Friday this year. We never for one minute stopped to think about how Friday night in Texas is reserved for High School Varsity Football. 

That's right. I'm afraid that Friday Night Lights caused us to have a terrible turnout at the Hollow this year. The worst part is that despite the things I listed above, this truly had the makings to be our best year to date. And that is leaving something of a hole in my happy feeling for all the great things we did this year.

But, no worries. These things happen. Everything I've mentioned as needing work are easily fixed and we already have so many ideas for what to do next year.

So, see you in August, when the blog will once again become active and we will lay out what we plan on doing for Hollinger Hollow 2015!

See you then!


  1. I can't believe what you accomplished and just how fabulous it is

  2. Can't wait to automate this year (2015) - I'm going to try using standard PLC controllers but the PicoBoo controllers are a good idea - can't beat the price.

    Love following the blog - BTW, I'm Jan's other Halloween loving nephew, Dave in GA. Can't wait to see what you do for 2015