LL family gets into the ‘spirit’ of the season

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Holidays hold a particular fascination for Abner Fernandez, especially Halloween.

He takes considerable pleasure in designing lighted displays and building macabre scenes with monsters that sing and werewolves that howl.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Los Lunas resident Abner Fernandez has been building elaborate Halloween displays with animated ghouls, witches and goblins every year for more than a decade.

Fernandez begins preparations months in advance, constructing scarey monsters in his garage workshop.

On Halloween night, cars line the street and kids trail up and down the sidewalk for a glimpse of the ghastly show, said his wife, Pauline.

“I’ve got people from way out of town who come and take pictures,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez, a 27-year corrections officer at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas, loves to tinker using his trade skills as an electrician and carpenter. He builds all sorts of animated phantoms ― ghouls that beckon and threaten and witches that stir the proverbial caldron.

Model trains used to be his hobby, but now it’s Halloween, he said.

Back when Fernandez, Pauline and their son, Anthony, 13, lived in Veguita, he constructed his Halloween creations on a smaller scale.

Now, he lines the driveway with an array of ghostly exhibits that his son helps him set up.

Fernandez has been decorating the family home at 1433 Bosque Vista Loop for the past nine years, first attracting neighbors, then as word spread, people and children from all over the county.

Little Joshua Freeman, 3, with eyes wide, keeps a distance from the ghouls, but says he’s not afraid.

The boy has been visiting his neighbor to watch the construction of the spooky figures, but now that they’re set up and animated, it gives him a little pause.

“They did the ‘Monster Mash,’ it was a graveyard smash,” the Bobby Picket song plays in the background, while dozens of goblins, witches, skeletons and monsters gyrate, stir, stab and convulse in elaborate scenes of spiderwebs, tombstones and a skeleton rock band banging away on drums and guitar.

Fernandez actively collects odds and ends whenever he comes across them. These include old motors, pieces of wood, wire, and other materials.

Most of the motors he uses come from cars, such as windshield wipers and engine fan motors.

Fernandez explains that the motors go in a circular motion, so he adds a cam to connect linkages for different movements.

Small prototypes of bogeymen are built using Popsicle sticks, so he can manipulate the figure to see how to construct the larger version.

Then Fernandez launches into construction, sawing the wood, slicing Styrofoam, hinging arms and legs, attaching the motor and linkages. The final result might be a zombie whose arms and legs kick back and forth or a skeleton convulsing in an electric chair.

An elaborate lighting system is coordinated with music, and each monster has its own sound effects.

Fernandez taught himself how to build the sound systems, learning different things on the Internet, he said.

Songs are downloaded from the Web onto his computer, and different computer programs help him synchronize the sound waves to the movements of his creations.

“What I like is when people come here and they say, ‘Wow, how did he do that?’” Fernandez said.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.