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Frightening family fun

By: Susan Belknap, Placer Herald Editor
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For many people, getting ready for Halloween means buying some candy and dressing up in a costume. But for the Kirk family of Rocklin, Halloween is so much more. “I start working on the design of each year’s theme at the beginning of the year,” said Dan Kirk, who by day is a business analyst for Hewlett Packard. “We start building all the sets in September and get it all set up about 2 ½ weeks before Halloween.” Dan and his wife, Pat, have been decorating their home for the Halloween season for the past 15 years. “We have been doing it on such a large scale for the past three to four years,” Dan said. This year the Kirk family decided on an ancient Egyptian theme complete with a 13.5- foot long representation of an ancient queen’s funeral barge that Dan built atop his homes’ three-car garage. The barge features a head of a jackal on its bow with an animated queen and servant inside the vessel that has lights set to go on and off to the tunes of Egyptian music “Last year we had a firing cannon outside,” said Dan, who refers to himself during the Halloween season as King KIRKankhamen. Past the garage of the Kirk home sits a horse-driven stagecoach where more animated figures beckon visitors to the front door where Frankenstein and a witch’s caldron of steaming, smoking brew awaits. But the Kirk’s Halloween extravaganza doesn’t end at the entrance to the house. Inside, a life-size knight in armor and a realistic-looking pirate complete with his buried treasure greets the Kirk’s visitors. The dining room is completely set for the king and his queen, CleoPATra with place cards for I.L. BeBack, I.M. Mortal and Derlie D. Parted. None of the guests at the kings’ table have to lift a finger as “Alfred” the butler is always standing nearby. “I sculpted Alfred myself out of latex and wax,” said Dan of the life-like statue that looks so human it’s scary. Continuing the tour throughout the house, beware of the bathroom where a skeleton with a heart that lights up lies in wait in the bathtub that is filled with green water and giant ants overhead. Beyond the bathroom is a 5-foot by 22-inch glass case diorama filled with action figures, real sand and water and miniature lit torches depicting a mummification scene that Dan made himself. In addition to all the decorations, Dan and Pat delight in greeting outside guests in full costumes of King Tut and Cleopatra. While Pat admits her husband is the brain behind all the electronics and staging of their home’s decorations, she also gets into the spirit of the season as well. “This year, I said, no more stuff. But then I saw the carriage and the armored knight and knew we had to have it,” she said. With Pat’s birthday Oct. 28, she said she’s always enjoyed Halloween festivities. “When Dan and I met I already had some decorations,” Pat said. “And Dan has the imagination. This is 20 years of collecting things.” Both Dan and Pat admit they go to such extremes during the Halloween season to “elevate people’s spirits.” “I think this is what people need right now,” Dan said. Dan said the house and its spooky decorations usually attract hundreds of people each year. Families like the Hervas who came from Roseville to see the Kirk’s display. “There’s just much to see,” said Jacy Hervas, 6. What: The Kirk family Halloween extravaganza: The Queen’s Barge Where: 6204 Sweetgrass Court in Rocklin When: Open til 10 p.m. today and Friday