DAD TURNS CASTLE HOME INTO HOUSE OF HORRORS

Photographer has been disturbingly decorating home, yard for years

A view of the Halloween decorations at the home of Paul and Dawn Castle on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in East Greenbush, N.Y. Paul Castle has been doing large elaborate Halloween decorations for the past 18 years. Paul and his wife and family members had to wait until 7:45am Halloween morning to start setting up because Paul did not want the area children to see what his home would look like until after school. (Paul Buckowski/Times Union)
Byline:  STEVE BARNES
East Greenbush
After the last school bus looped around his cul-de-sac on Wednesday morning, Paul Castle got to work trashing his front yard. His goal, to be completed by the afternoon bus run or first trick-or-treaters: create a spooky junkyard, complete with wrecked vehicles, stacks of tires, a doorless fridge and vast webbings of plastic film that might have been woven by a spider the size and temperament of a Rottweiler.
A graveyard cluttered with cars and assorted human detritus is the theme of this year’s Halloween display at the Castle home, which for the past decade has grown increasingly elaborate and creepily fantastical in its Oct. 31 decorations. They are largely the work of Castle, who owns a commercial photography studio in Waterford, though his wife, Dawn, has grown more enthusiastic about the scary festivities, as were his kids, now in their mid-20s and living out of the area, while they were still at home.
“My dad is a big kid at heart. He loves to go all out,” said Meaghan Castle, who lives in California. “We always had big displays for lots of holidays, and when we moved into this house (in 2005), it just kept growing.”
Previous years have featured giant spider webs, exterior walls and windows turned into cackling faces, a T-rex with Superman in its jaws and an icy wonderland over which Queen Dawn reigned.
“I do it for the kids,” said Paul Castle. “I love to see the expressions on their faces.”
This year’s theme was more than a year in the making; he’d wanted to do a junkyard for last Halloween, but ran out of time to properly source the junked vehicles. This year they were supplied and transported by friends who own Broadway Auto in Menands, with Castle adding to the wrecked look after they arrived by jumping on vehicle hoods, roofs and trunks to dent them in. Spider webs are made from industrial-grade plastic film — one year the web went from the second story of the home all the way down the front hill to the road — and lighting effects come from Castle’s photo studio.
Careful sourcing of materials and volunteer labor keeps costs down. Castle estimated that he spends $300 to $500 annually on his Halloween display, though he added, “I do have a budget, but I don’t always manage to stick to it.” The display will stay up through overnight Thursday and be fully gone by Saturday, or such is the hope.
“I think some of the neighbors think he goes too far, but some of them get into it,” said Meaghan Castle.
This year, another house on Castle’s cul-de-sac has a pirate ship in front of its garage. “It’s nice to see somebody else doing something,” Paul Castle said. He said kids in his large residential development start quizzing him over the summer about his plans for the upcoming Halloween. Teenage visitors during a recent year told him they vividly remembered a display from a decade before, when they were kindergartners.
“We’re a neighborhood legacy now,” Castle said. “That’s one of the big reasons we keep doing it. I love it, of course, but I think if we ever wanted to stop, we’d have to move.”

 

Dawn Castle, left, and her husband Paul Castle pose with their Halloween decorations outside their home on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in East Greenbush, N.Y. The Castles have been doing large elaborate Halloween decorations for the past 18 years. The Castles and family members had to wait until 7:45am Halloween morning to start setting up because Paul did not want the area children to see what his home would look like until after school. (Paul Buckowski/Times Union)

 

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