Halloween collection

Gary Hand is surrounded by his Halloween collection, a yearly attraction since he moved to Salida in 2002. The collection is for sale. The Salida woodworking artist is moving and won’t have room for the display.

Salida woodworking artist Gary Hand, owner of Carpentry by Hand, is best known for creating custom designed furniture and home building. But his other passion is Halloween.

He earned a certificate as a journeyman in carpentry in 1982 and loves working with wood, especially creating pieces with curves. His custom furniture was displayed at Gallery 150 for more than 10 years.

Since moving to Salida in 2002, his creations from his other passion have adorned his lawn at 1137 D St. every year at Halloween.

Now the time has come to part with the collection, and he’s hoping someone who loves Halloween as much as he does will adopt it. The selling price is $200.

“We’re moving and won’t have space to display the collection anymore,” Hand said, “but it has a lot of memories.”

Its history goes back 25 years, starting in Minturn.

“Minturn was the only town in that area that celebrated Halloween back then,” Hand said. “Everyplace else had empty condos and empty places. There was no place for kids to trick or treat so Minturn became the F Street of the whole Vail Valley.”

He was living downtown at the time, and because Minturn was such a magnet for Halloween, he got the idea to take Halloween to another level and create giant 4-by-4-foot pumpkin shadow boxes. Kids in the middle school art department did drawings of pumpkin faces, and local artists juried the 60 entries, choosing the best ones.

At one time there were 16 of those shadow box pumpkins along with about 40 each of wooden black bats and cats at the front of business places.

“We got local businesses to sponsor the pumpkins, which helped pay for building them,” Hand said. “The Halloween decorations took up five blocks of Minturn. Each pumpkin had four 100 watt bulbs glowing onto Main Street.”

When he moved to Leadville in the 1980s he took four of the pumpkins and some of the bats, cats and other Halloween wooden cutouts with him. At one point there was a guillotine and a gallows, but the weather took its toll on the gallows over the years. In Leadville he also turned his workshop into a haunted cave.

“My daughter was 10 at the time, and she dressed up and handed out candy. I bought some tripe, which looked like brains, and had it on a platter, and she’d ask the kids if they wanted candy or brains. They all took the candy. At times we had 20 kids lined up waiting to get in.”

Moving to Salida in 2002, he took the Halloween collection, including a “graveyard” with a collection of wooden tombstones, with him, and Salidans have enjoyed the display for the past 17 years. But with the move coming up, there is no longer a place to display the stuff.

“It’s a lot of work putting it out, but I’m hoping someone will enjoy it as much as I have and give it a good or a scary home to carry on the tradition,” Hand said.

He hopes to sell the collection in its entirety, and that includes some Rubbermaid tubs full of lights.

“We’ll still have Halloween in the new place but the decorations will be inside,” he said.

Anyone interested can contact him at 719-235-2512.

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