Shorewood after dark: Local man sets Halloween tradition

Dubbed “The Porch Project,” Gregg Beaster has been putting up Halloween displays at his house for the last 15 years. This has become a Shorewood tradition.

Beaster, an Atwater parent, has lived in Shorewood since 2000. Every year he puts up his traditional Halloween display on his upper balcony; this year will be his 16th display.

(Cela Migan) Local Halloween decorations, located on Maryland Avenue, attract attention over the holidays. The decorations have become a tradition.
(Cela Migan) Local Halloween decorations, located on Maryland Avenue, attract attention over the holidays. The decorations have become a tradition.

“When I was a kid and I would see an adult in a costume handing out candy, I thought that was the most awesome thing,” Beaster said. “I thought if I’m ever in the position to do that I want to … so this is an outgrowth of that.”

Beaster first started making Halloween decorations and displays when he was involved with running a haunted house in Waukesha. He was involved with that for 27 years.

This year’s display is from the summer movie Minions. The minions themselves are life-sized, along with a seven foot tall Scarlett Overkill. The display itself took between 65 and 70 hours to construct.

Beaster said that the theme decision is usually not considered until September: he puts off choosing a theme in order to keep his options open and theme time relevant.

“It’s designed to be a last-second decision,” said Beaster.

Some of Beaster’s past displays include scenes such as Captain America vs. the Winter Soldier, Despicable Me 2, Batman vs. Joker, Hulk vs. Gargoyle and Batman vs. Brett Favre.

This tradition has become very familiar to the Shorewood residents, especially to the Atwater students and families.

“That guy has the best Halloween decorations ever,” said Calvin Wille, 6 grade.

Beaster starts planning “The Porch Project,” Labor Day weekend, and aims to have it up within the first week of October. He works with Tulley Smith, a friend and mathematician, who helps him with the dimensions of the display.

“We basically sit down and I tell him my ideas and I start sketching stuff out, and he starts to scale it,” Beaster said.

Beaster makes the display in his home’s basement. He often has to build the figures without their arms and legs in order to get them up the stairs, through doorways and onto the porch. The figures in the display are made with an assortment of different materials.

“I just have a weird collection of materials that I work with and different fabrics that I’ve gotten over the years,” Beaster said. “There are paper mache elements, there’s a lot of duct tape, and sometimes there are chunks of foam; it’s whatever I happen to have.”

Beaster’s displays are staged on his upper porch and are big enough to be easily viewed by passing civilians. Many students and parents are able to see the display when coming to or from school.

Jessica Kosempa, Atwater parent, sees the display often on the way to school.

“I think it’s clever and my kids really enjoy them,” said Kosempa.

Beaster is a big Halloween enthusiast and enjoys the tradition of celebrating Halloween by putting up the display every year.

“On trick-or-treating day, I wear a costume to blend in with whatever the display is that year and I lower candy down in a basket to the kids from the balcony,” Beaster said.

by Cela Migan

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