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Archive for October 28th, 2011


By DAVID BRO / SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER

SAN CLEMENTE -(CA)- Whatever Halloween fans, or fiends, may be looking for in a haunted house, San Clemente has it – a mad scientist, old bones, ghostly pirates, classic horror, even a creepy touch of Latin.

Here are stories behind three of the more elaborate local Halloween haunts. SEE A SLIDE SHOW HERE.

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A Jolly Roger adorns the chimney while pirate skeletons prepare for battle on the second-floor balcony of the Bieber home in San Clemente.
DAVID BRO, FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

And check out photos of many others around town here.

‘MAD SCIENTIST’

Paul Heyman, a real estate investor and part-time inventor, moved to 141 W. Cornelio in San Clemente two years ago from Whittier and brought with him his tradition of decorating his home with spooky homemade contraptions designed to scare you even though you know what’s coming.

A fan of old TV shows like “The Addams Family”and movies like “Frankenstein,” Heyman builds campy but elaborate live-action displays, such as a hand that reaches from under the closed lid of a box, a coffin that opens with a dead man’s arms outstretched, “Moe” – a Three Stooges-like head that pops out of a box – and a host of others you’ll have to see for yourself.

But don’t go early – he doesn’t set up until the day of Halloween so it’s all fresh. He operates it all with switches driven by an air compressor hidden in his home.

“It’s always something new and better,” Heyman said. “I give a lot of it away to friends and family so they can start their own haunted houses.”

LITERARY HORROR

Retired California park ranger Jim Long also strives for variety at his haunted house at 141 Barcelona. It seems he always brings something back from yearly vacations in the United States or places worldwide to add to his display. Sometimes it’s borrowed from Shakespeare, Latin sayings, classical art or American folklore.

There’s a skeleton at a player piano; a glow-in-the-dark grandfather clock that runs backward with the Latin phrase “Tempus fugit,” or “Time flies”; a lantern-gripping Grim Reaper; a ghostly blue maiden floating within the archway of a stone tomb; a skeleton stretched out in an open crypt along with a Latin inscription that translates to “I once was what you are, and what I am you also will be.”

The Halloween show has become an annual tradition that Long works on throughout the year. Almost everything is handmade. He says he works on setup full time for two weeks leading up to Halloween and has several friends and neighbors help with the final details, such as getting a more than 150-pound carved pumpkin on top of his chimney. This year, for the first time, there will be a life-size skeleton sitting on top.

“The biggest part of this is, by far, the time,” Long said with a sideways smile.

Long calculates by the candy he gave out that about 4,000 people visited his haunted home last Halloween. This year’s edition, he says, is even better.

A PIRATE’S LIFE (OR DEATH)

Just around the corner from Long’s place, the Bieber family has transformed their home at 805 S. Ola Vista into a pirate ship, with all manner of sails, masts, treasure, cannons and mayhem. At this doomed dwelling, every night is dark and stormy – lights flash like lightning and pirate music plays while the voice of a long-dead ship captain urges his crew to repel boarders, take in sail and fire away.

The project lasts all year, Jim Bieber says. Even at the last minute, the family is adding final details they pick up here and there, generally for free. The show is such an attraction that a local senior citizens community conducts field trips to take pictures of it.

Once Halloween has passed to the hereafter for another year, it all packs up into an area less than the size of a single-car garage, Bieber says.

“I think about it all year,” Bieber said. “After work, it’s like therapy.”

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Five days after the beach’s landmark stump bearing an American flag proved too stubborn for about 200 people trying to relocate it away from the threat of high surf, heavy equipment donated this afternoon moves it in 30 minutes.

By DAVID BRO / SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER

SAN CLEMENTE – (CA)- Heavy equipment arrived Friday afternoon at Poche Beach and moved a landmark flag-bearing driftwood tree stump to higher, safer ground after hundreds of people had tried unsuccessfully last weekend to move it themselves.

The 6- to 7-ton tree stump across from the Palm Beach Park mobile-home community in San Clemente has flown an American flag since somebody placed one there soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The flag has been replaced periodically through the years by residents of Palm Beach Park and others.

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A bulldozer operated by Tommy Sherman of TS Grading is guided Friday by Mark Meintel of Meintel Construction Management as it moves the 6- to 7-ton flag-bearing tree stump up a berm to a safer place on Poche Beach.
The trunk had become increasingly threatened by high surf that had moved it about 200 feet and sometimes submerged the flag under the waves.

San Clemente resident Joe Wilson organized an effort last Sunday to relocate the stump to higher ground on property owned by Palm Beach Park. More than 200 people tried for three hours to move it by human power and a lot of rope, but the stump was too heavy and too imbedded in the sand. They did manage to tilt it and place plywood boards under it to prepare it for the heavy machinery.

On Friday, it took a bulldozer volunteered by Mark Meintel of Meintel Construction of San Clemente about 30 minutes to relocate the stump and its flag farther from the water’s edge.

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After protesters turned out to a similar event in August in San Clemente, a power-plant ‘open house’ at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center leaves some visitors convinced that ‘nuclear power is fine.’ Others have concerns about their chances in a radioactive emergency

By DAVID BRO / SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO- (CA)- Southern California Edison, operator of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, visited the San Juan Capistrano Community Center on Thursday evening for an “open house” on how the power plant works, along with a primer on emergency planning and security.

About 70 people attended for a dinner buffet, children’s activities and a tabletop tide pool featuring sea creatures found in the tidal zone around the plant.

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Mary Bierce of San Clemente and Norma Lelli of Dana Point try to locate their homes in relation to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station on an Interjurisdictional Planning Commitee map illustrating a protective zone used to determine emergency action in case of an accident at the plant. SONGS’ operator, Southern California Edison, held a public “open house” in San Juan Capistrano on Thursday evening to explain how the plant works, as well as its environmental impact, security and emergency planning.

A similar exhibit in San Clemente in Augustattracted protests from San Onofre opponents who want the plant shut down pending improvements in safety and crisis planning. Thursday’s event in San Juan had no such protests.

San Juan is about 10 miles north of the plant; San Clemente about 2½ miles.

San Juan Capistrano architect Gerald Muir, 63, who was born and raised in south Orange County, said he attended to gain more knowledge of nuclear power. He said he was impressed by the intricacy of the plant’s electricity generation.

“I’ve never been adversely concerned about it,” Muir said. “Nuclear power is fine, but I would like to see more solar.”

Mary Bierce of San Clemente and Norma Lelli of Dana Point stood in front of a map illustrating theInterjurisdictional Planning Committee‘s 10-mile protective zone surrounding SONGS. They were trying to locate their homes in the emergency planning and evacuation area outlined by the committee, which consists of many government, industry and volunteer agencies. Bierce and Lelli concluded their chances of getting out of the area would be slim in the event of a radioactive release at SONGS.

“It’s going to get real goofy in San Juan with everyone going north” from San Clemente, Dana Point and north San Diego County, Lelli said.

“We’re going to have to make friends with someone who has a boat,” Bierce said. “I think we should go down to the harbor and get started.”

San Onofre opponents also believe evacuation plans are inadequate and that the emergency planning zone should be extended to a 50-mile radius around the plant.

The city of San Clemente is seeking federal funding assistance for a planned project to extend Avenida La Pata north to San Juan Capistrano to provide another evacuation route besides I-5 and Pacific Coast Highway.

San Clemente resident Clay Gable said he felt comfortable with his knowledge of nuclear power but attended Thursday’s event to learn more. He said he’s glad he did after hearing Edison engineers describe the plant’s triple-redundant cooling system. Now, he’s more convinced than ever of the need more nuclear power, he said.

“Nuclear power is fine,” Gable said. “We need to be more energy-independent from the Middle East.”

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