Some scary guests are visiting town soon, many of them darkly ominous: Vultures, zombies, skeletons, spiders, witches, black cats, goblins, scarecrows and characters you might not like seated at your dinner tables, like Frankenstein the monster and The Mummy.
For the creative and inspired, the Halloween holiday is a great time to search the closet for bizarre outfits, dust off plastic skeletons and carve an ugly face in a pumpkin Jack-o'-lantern.
Some of the terrors have arrived early, like over on North Sinagua Heights Drive, where the Brose brothers have repeated their annual Halloween magic, building an elaborate Hollywood-style set in front of their parents home.
The triplets were all born on Aug. 6, 1986. The family moved to Flagstaff from Los Angeles in 2000. The brothers attended Sinagua High School, where they did set design for school productions.
Last year, dressed as the "Pirates of Sin Cove," they entertained trick-or-treaters at the very large pirate ship they built in the front yard.
Kids of all ages and their parents were in for a good scare at the pirate ship, said Mitch Brose, who works part of the week at the Phoenix Zoo.
This year, the brothers are in character as the "Trio Brose Posse."
"We promised we would continue with our construction and set designing, so this year we constructed a large saloon, a water tower, an outhouse to create a Western atmosphere for all the children wanting to remember another Halloween here in our neighborhood and Flagstaff, Arizona," Mitch said.
The saloon set took about 300 man-hours of work total from the three brothers.
Scary elements at their "Lootin' Dog Saloon" in "Sihngulch" include boxes of fake dynamite, motion-sensitive rubber rattlesnakes, leering black vultures and a stuffed cloth rat at the bar.
SPECIAL EFFECTS GALORE
The saloon is rigged for a fake fire scene, complete with a roof that starts to fall in, coordinated by dad Richard from the balcony of the family home behind.
The frightening projects at home are all approved by parents Richard and Rhonda Brose, who run a home-based environmental consulting firm.
Everything is pretty much kid-proof.
"We used fake barbed wire around the fence out front," Rhonda said. "I didn't want the neighborhood kids to climb over it and get hurt."
Inspiration for their set design usually comes from stories the brothers have written. The theme for the haunted Western set came from the Ghost Rider in the Sky cowboy legend.
A poem penned by Ben, who works at Sam's Club, provides narration for the saloon scenes. The poem begins with these words: "Come one, come many, to this Ghost Town of old. Sihngulch is its name, with a legend to unfold."
The set includes many special effects touches, including an outhouse that glows in the dark, a sound clip of a burning barn and breaking glass, a smoke-making machine and a sluice box with running water for mining gold.
Narration will come from Marshall Durbin, another Brose character, a stuffed figure by the saloon doors, who has a skull for a head and holds a knotted lynching rope.
After some run-throughs last week, the full production will debut only on Halloween eve, beginning at sundown (about 6:30 p.m.), and going until all the kids quit coming.
Candy will be in the outhouse and big candy bars go to children in Western garb.
Theatrics after sundown will include some shootouts and lively antics by a cast of saloon girls, including mom Rhonda and older Brose brother Jim's new bride, Krissy.
Neighborhood excitement is building for the event, fueled by participation in the building of the set by local youngsters.
"The most fun is the atmosphere of the Wild West," Ben said.
"We're bringing it back," Mitch added. "We're using our imaginations to pull this off."
"Being part of the story; that's what it's all about," Ben said.
Reached by cell phone at Coconino Community College, where he studies zoology and graphic design, Casey commented on working with his brothers.
"Every year, we have a blast doing it," he said. "With those two, I couldn't have a better crew. I think the best part of it were all the details we put in."
The brothers, now 22, plan to move to Los Angeles next year to study set design and form a triplet set-design company.
"That's why all three of us are going; it takes all three of us to do this," Ben said. "I'm so glad we've all three decided to pursue our dreams."
Betsey Bruner can be reached at 556-2255 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, which was celebrated at the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. The festival was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores.
Halloween was a late bloomer in the United States. It didn't become a holiday here until the 19th century, after the arrival of immigrants from Ireland, escaping the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849), brought the holiday to the American shores.