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Clinton Hill Neighbors Put On Large-Scale Halloween Shows Drawing Thousands

By Janet Upadhye | October 26, 2012 5:15pm

CLINTON HILL — Both Janna Hyten and Robert Troch have a childlike love of Halloween. They both live in Clinton Hill and produce massive Halloween shows for the neighborhood.

"This neighborhood is a very special place," said Troch. "I have never seen anything like it. We have two Halloween shows only two blocks apart that are pretty different from each other. That’s pretty cool I think."

And although they live only two blocks apart, the two Halloween fanatics have never met.

Hyten has lived in her house at 313 Clinton Ave. for 27 years. When she first moved into the columned white mansion built in 1889, the paint on the outside was peeling and the inside needed major renovations. She immediately named her house, “The Halloween House.” But it wasn't until years later that she first opened her home to trick-or-treaters.

"I first created a haunted house in the front parlor 19 years ago," she said. “Not many kids came by, but those who did were delighted.”

From there, Hyten began to throw elaborate Halloween parties, inviting the neighborhood to join.

And as community began to form in Clinton Hill, Hyten found her neighbors were carpenters, screenwriters, Broadway actors, and set and costume designers. In 2004, the time was ripe to put on a large-scale outdoor show.

The first show, Zombie School for Ghouls, was a major hit and the following shows, including Clinton Hell High's, High School Musi-Ghoul, and Clinton Hell Carnival of Carnage, have only become more extravagant.

“Each year it's a challenge to up the ante from the one before,” Hyten said.  “As long as we have strong support from the Society for Clinton Hill, our neighbors and volunteers — who donate countless hours of sweat equity and imagination — we promise to keep on entertaining.”

Hyten’s shows literally draw thousands.

And then came Troch. With a love of horror films, Troch’s first show in 2007 was a fight between Godzilla, Frankenstein and Dracula. Soon the shows had music, and sound/special effects, costumes, sets, props, lighting, and special effects. And the crowds came.

Troch puts on three 20-minute shows on Halloween with a turnout of at least 2,000 attending.

“We have never been extravagant, preferring the rough around the edges approach,” he said. “But if the kids leave screaming, we are happy.”

Troch's Brooklyn Halloween Tag Team Monster Mash Up was a success last year and this year he is producing Single Elimination Slaughter. He promises an outdoor wrestling ring, monsters, music, and plenty of Halloween "wrestling beat downs"

Troch and Hyten have accomplished something very special in the neighborhood they call home. But according to the Daily News, "the roots of the ghostly affairs began on Myrtle Avenue in 1986 when nightclub designer Michael Fink, now 56, moved into the then-crime-plagued area noticing the lack of public affection for the festivity."

Fink decorated the lobby of his building and handed out candy to the kids.

“Halloween — it’s come back,” Fink told the paper. “It was quiet for many years. And now it’s amazing.”

And to Hyten and Troch, the year-round planning and late night rehearsals are not only fun but also well worth it to produce something that makes the neighbors smile.

And both admit, it’s not just for the children.

“This is for us to play, be creative and build community,” said Hyten.

Troch agreed. “It keeps me young.”