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Swashbucklers are at heart of Folsom teen's Halloween display

By: Laura Newell, Of the Telegraph
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FOLSOM, CA - One Folsom student is turning his design and construction talents into an event for neighborhood kids.

Vista del Lago senior Trent Johns, 17, started putting up pirate-themed Halloween decorations for trick-or-treaters when he was 11 years old. Today his decorations at 100 Amaya Drive in Folsom, have taken on a life of their own with a pirate ship, jail house and even mermaids.

“I was always interested in getting more kids to come by and trick-or-treat, so I wanted to do something to make the area kid-friendly,” Johns said. “We chose pirates because it’s kid-friendly and not scary. It’s just fun. We don’t want anyone to be scared. We thought this would be fun for the neighborhood kids.”

He said many of his surrounding neighbors had grown children, so not many younger kids came to his block for candy. After turning his front yard into a scene reminiscent of Disney’s “The Pirates of the Caribbean,” more than 200 treat-or-treaters and visitors visit his house each year.

“Seeing the kids getting excited and smiling all dressed up in their costumes is the highlight of the night,” he said. “That’s why I started doing this, for the kids.”

He said the must-stop places at the house are the hand-built ship and jail cell.

“We have a couple new things this year, but it’s all really cool,” Johns said. “The jail allows people to come inside to get their candy and look around at the hanging bones and pirates on the ground.”

While he builds and adds new decorations every year, Johns said the majority of the set was previously built by him and his family. He said he built it in such a way that it can unfold and pack up in storage during the rest of the year. Still, he said to prepare for Halloween night, it takes him about a month to unpack, construct, layout and add special effects with music and lighting for the design.

“I started constructing the ship when I was 15 years old and started the design when I was 11,” Johns said. “It’s a fun family project. We look for pieces like lanterns and other items to enhance it all year. Then when it all comes together for Halloween, it’s so cool.”

Since Johns is a senior this year and plans to attend college, he said this might be the last year for children to visit his elaborate pirate decorations.

“This is our seventh year doing this, but I will have to take a break next year when I go to college,” he said. “It all depends on my school schedule.”

While Johns said he hopes to use his design and constructing skills in his future career, it won’t be on a movie set.

“I want to study humanities and travel,” Johns said. “I want to study abroad in Africa and eventually help build houses and schools – hopefully in Africa.”

Still, he is excited about Halloween and wants to go out with a bang – straight from his pirate ship’s cannon.