Lincoln Square, you're in for a scare—that is, if you happen to walk by Foster and Western and see the giant robed skeleton towering over Kevin Byrne and his husband's home.
For Byrne, a director of analytics at a media company, Halloween has always been a time to exercise his creative muscles. Each year for the past 20 years or so, he's created elaborate group costumes: characters from Spaceballs, Pee Wee's Playhouse, and a giant papier-mâché bobblehead of himself, for which he took top prize at his office costume contest.
“Last year, for example, we were characters from Beetlejuice. I dressed my husband up as a sandworm that stood 10 feet tall,” he says. “I felt like I was setting the bar higher and higher and got nervous I was going to max out at some point."
So this year, instead of costumes, he put his energy into Halloween decorations: He wanted to make use of his home’s relatively flat roof and parapet wall to stage a ghoulish creature. After going back and forth about what type of monster he wanted to create, he finally settled on a robed skeleton.
To ensure the skeleton's proportionality, Byrne used his own body's dimensions and multiplied by seven-and-a-half—meaning the monster, if fully created, would stand 45 feet tall. He used rigid wall insulation foam to fashion a six-foot-three-inch skull, hands, and a wooden frame to hold the head and hands in place.
Crafting the two hands proved more labor-intensive than he imagined. “I had never really thought about how many bones are actually in the hand,” Byrne says. More difficult was the wooden frame holding the monster together. “I knew what I needed to do visually, but struggled with how to build this so a wind doesn't knock it down."
Dop Troutman, Byrne's husband, provided feedback throughout the process, offered tips on how to paint the skull, and "was instrumental in helping with the installation."
"Maneuvering the giant pieces of the skeleton was definitely a two-person job," Byrne says.
After working on it for five full weekends and some evenings after work, his monster is now on full display. “Seems like people are getting a kick out of it,” Byrne says. “It's fun to see people stop and take pictures of it, and especially fun if they’re stopped at the traffic light that's a block away, look over to the left and realize there's a giant skeleton up there.”
Byrne says he's even had some anxiety dreams about it—but not the nightmares you might expect: “I kept thinking I'll come out in the morning and it'll be crumpled mass on the ground, but it's holding up well.”
People have even reached out to discuss potential projects after seeing the magnificent creation. “I'd love to channel this passion and get a gig or two, whether it be building props, costumes, or random projects,” Byrne says. “I'd rather not just have that once a year with Halloween.”
And after October 31? “I’ve told people I'd leave it out year-round, and put a Santa hat during Christmas, and Easter eggs for Easter,” Byrne says with a laugh, adding that he'll actually find room in the garage to store it away. “I’m not sure what next year has in store, but I hope to get more use out of it.”