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Burb's Eye View: Halloween is a haunted family tradition

October 04, 2011|By Bryan Mahoney

When I hear “luxury resort” I usually think palm trees, bright blue pools and as many combinations of tequila and fruit as my bartender can muster. The Meyer family’s idea of “luxury” involves alien pods, space cocktails and heavy construction.

For the past 21 years, the family has turned its North California Street home into a behemoth monument to Halloween. Calling their annual creation a “haunted house” completely undersells the engineering, planning, craftsmanship and creativity that goes into their Franken-houses.

To put that much passion into Halloween requires a commitment from the whole family. It started in 1990, when Diane and Preston Meyer started putting on a haunted house for their daughter Melissa’s birthday, Oct. 26. Over the years the productions got bigger and bigger — one year they filled their entire living room with dirt for a graveyard.

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“When you’re young, you do stupid things,” Diane Meyer said.

When daughter Melissa married Jay Thompson a few years ago, their ceremony took place at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Their reception had a “Haunted Mansion” theme, and now their 1-year-old son, Ramsley, is the youngest member of the Meyers’ construction crew.

If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s named after the butler from Disney’s 2003 “Haunted Mansion” movie.

“Every haunt’s got a story,” Diane Meyer said.

She was referring to the “space resort” being built in her front yard from old TV show sets and materials the Meyers hold in storage for the year.

I guarantee you “The Bold and the Beautiful” never looked so creepy.

I can’t give away the whole story, mostly because it still exists as plywood and framing, plus the spinning tunnel they bought on Craigslist for $500. But Diane took me through the structure last week, and I saw the vision taking shape.

There’s a “space lounge” and a sick bay where something otherworldly has taken over, and things start to go very wrong for the space tourists looking for that perfect off-Earth getaway. To think it all began as an idea on a family trip to the Kennedy Space Center last year.

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