As Halloween draws near, I always try to give my young trick
or treaters a new surprise each year. Some of my surprises in
past years have made them flee from my porch in terror. Having
learned from past mistakes, I now try to simply entertain them.
The porch show has to meet certain criteria, different from
the usual "magic show" criteria. The audience changes
constantly, but you may also get "repeaters." You have
to be able to reset very quickly as one group leaves and the next
group arrives, so shows that sort of "travel in a
circle," i.e. end as they began, work best. And every show
has to end in the candy handout finale. You have to pay your
Here's how the Mr. Bones Show works:
The guests arrive and ring the doorbell. Just for fun, I like
to hang an old fashioned bell on a post and they have to pull a
rope to ring it. It's something different for them and the
neighbors don't mind... too much.
Suddenly, in response to the bell, the porch lights up with
ultraviolet lights (blacklights) and they are looking at a box
that resembles a briefcase which rests on a small platform. They
can see underneath the platform at all times. The lid of the box
opens up and inside they see a miniature graveyard scene with
fluorescent grave stones. In the very center of the
"graveyard" is an open grave; a hole "dug"
into the bottom of the box. There is a pile of fluorescent bones
in the grave, and they come together and form themselves into a
tiny skeleton which peeks out of the grave and looks around.
Mr. Bones climbs out of the grave, gets to his feet and
depending on the volume of arriving guests, puts on a short show,
a medium show, or a long show. The length of show is determined
by looking down the street to see when the next group is likely
I usually act as Mr. Bone's "assistant,"
interpreting his "sign language" since he obviously
can't talk, and passing out candy when the crowd is large.
Otherwise, Mr. Bones generally dances to music, then passes out
single pieces of candy, one by one. He gets a piece of candy out
of a grave "hole" in the center of the graveyard. He
hands the candy to me, I inspect it like a good parent, and drop
it into each child's bag.
We have worked out little "bits of business" over
the years, like having Mr. Bones stumble and fall, then getting
up again. For some reason the kids find this funny. Sometimes Mr.
Bones gets too close to the edge of the "stage" and
almost falls off. Then he has to climb back up onto the stage,
which again is considered "funny." Sometimes Mr. Bones
tries to eat the candy, but it just falls out his empty stomach
again. If I ignore Mr. Bones, he tugs on my robe to get my
attention. Remember, this show is for kids, who find all of this
stuff hysterically funny and if their parents are bored, they
have the good manners not to say so.
To speed things along, if I spot another group on the way up
the front walk, I will quickly dispense the rest of the candy
without consulting Mr. Bones, but he also speeds up and runs
around his little graveyard stage while this is going on. Finally
I tell him to wave goodnight to the boys and girls, which he
does, then he collapses back to the pile of bones so he can begin
again with the next group.
If there is time, I reset back to the very beginning. I shut
the display box lid, the lights turn off and I go and sit down
for as long as I can. If not, I just pick it up from the near
beginning by saying "Wake up, Mr. Bones! We have some more
If the next group arrives before the first group has left,
Mr. Bones just continues handing out the candy, but he can repeat
his bits of business for the new audience.
Sometimes, towards the end of the evening, we start getting
groups of older kids and teenagers who just want candy and who
may find the show beneath them to enjoy. To test the situation, I
may have Mr. Bones crawl to life and hand me a piece of candy,
but if the older kids begin mocking the show, Mr. Bones lies down
again, the box lid closes, and I pass out the candy quickly just
to get rid of the crowd. Mr. Bones and I only work for
You may not like the idea of going to all this trouble for a
free ... no, I take that back, you have to pay the audience off
in candy... show on your front porch once a year. However, you
may discover that once it is built, you can include it (minus the
candy handout) in your regular demonstrations of Wizard magic as
an example of Animation, bringing lifeless objects to life.