Meet the Halloween King, who spends six weeks creating his ghoulish displays


There’s a good reason Ammon Smith’s neighbors are reluctant to decorate their homes for Halloween: A sparse pumpkin-lantern is spotted here, a modest fake spider web hanging from a tree there.

Over the past decade, the Utah resident has grown into horrific gangbusters in his backyard (think a full-scale haunted pirate ship, a display inspired by DIY area 51 – flying saucer and all – and has a jurassic park-themed enclosure filled with a group of velociraptors and a 35-foot T-rex), turning his Salt Lake City home into a local tourist attraction.

This year’s motif: a “clownish version with a bloody face and not so scary” of an 1800s carnival, suggested by his wife, Tera. “She’s sort of the master of the theme,” Smith says. “She’s a genius and comes up with these great ideas.”

Boasting a motion-activated animatronic fortune teller named Zaltana, interactive play stations, an automated merry-go-round and a towering Ferris wheel, he says the project took around 80 hours and six weeks.

“I really try to recycle everything I use for wood,” he says.

(Ammon Smith)

Standing outside his house, in front of an oversized gaping mouth that has invaded the front door, and next to a reinvented popcorn stand now advertising “just busted” corneas, Smith takes a moment to soak up it. .

“I think my favorite part is the Ferris wheel, because I built it,” he says, looking at his skeletal passengers. “It speaks to me a little differently. Smith estimates the towering structure to be around 23 feet tall (his tape measure only extends up to 20 feet).

“It’s a lot of fun, I love Halloween and I really love building this thing.”

(Ammon Smith)

It turns out the effort is a macabre green.

“I really try to recycle whatever I use for wood,” he says, adding that a lot of the materials have been outsourced. “This year I posted on Nextdoor, ‘Hey I’m your weird neighbor from Halloween. I’m not looking for silver or new wood, but if you have old wood – if you broke a deck or a fence blew up or something and it’s old and weathered – I will pick it up from you and I will clean it up. your woodpile. ‘ The response to the message was “overwhelming,” he said.

The recycled nature of the components eliminates the benefit if they end up in a landfill, although it already has three bidders keen to get their hands on the Ferris wheel and one bid on the spooky carousel.

This year’s motif: a “bloody-faced, not-so-scary clown version” of an 1800s carnival

(Ammon Smith)

Between buying lights, plastic skeletons to replace his war-torn battalion of years gone by, motorized parts and, of course, candy, Smith says the current tab for the current immersive exhibit is to about $ 1,000.

The investment, he notes, brought an immediate return.

“Definitely worth it,” says the daytime furniture maker. “We get huge bands of kids, the crowds are huge. It’s great fun, we’re having a great party and having a great time.

Smith says the current tab for the current immersive exhibit is around $ 1,000.

(Ammon Smith)

Along with the neighborhood praise is the seal of approval of her two children, ages 2 and 6, who grew up with their father building ghoulish creations in the garage.

He says the project took around 80 hours and six weeks to complete.

(Ammon Smith)

“I don’t think they’re old enough to have a good outlook yet. They kind of think, “Oh, it’s Halloween and we’re building these big, crazy things,” he says. “I think once they’re teenagers, they’ll probably be embarrassed about it. But until then, they’ll probably think it’s cool. Right now they think it’s cool, ”Smith laughs.

After countless hours, mechanical setbacks and endless outbursts, why continue?

Her two children, ages 2 and 6, grew up with their father building ghoulish creations in the garage.

(Ammon Smith’s Halloween Display)

“Because it’s a lot of fun, I love Halloween and I really love building that stuff,” he says of what has now become a year-long hobby. “A lot of times when people watch Netflix documentaries, I’m down my aisle building Halloween stuff. Honestly, that’s what I’d rather do: tinker with these little things. He pauses, ‘it’ is fun, you know? ”

The fun is worth it, he said.

(Ammon Smith)