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Posted: Monday, October 25, 2010 3:18 pm

Brian Johnson/AFN What began five years ago as a labor of love for his daughter Kaitlyn, now 10, has now turned into a nightmare - as in Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" for Ahwatukee resident and animatronics aficionado Steve Powers. While Halloween themes have adorned the Powers' home every year for the past five, a family trip last year to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion sparked the latest reincarnation. Rather than odes to Madame Leota, the Organist or the Hitchhiking Ghosts, Disney's Mansion now highlights Burton's Jack Skellington, Sally and Zero characters. The end result was that family members asked Steve to bring Halloween Town to the Powers front yard at 2537 E. Amberwood Drive in the Foothills. "How the heck do you do that?" he asked himself after realizing that the vast majority of Burton's characters would have to be homemade. But Powers, a pilot for US Airways, went to work in February and has a dozen or more characters now ready for Ahwatukee's Halloween crowd. Not just any kind of character will do for Powers, who once studied film at USC. In addition to adding "foam coat" to strengthen and protect each character, Powers brings the characters to life with lighting, music and computer software. So what is daughter Kaitlyn's new role in the production? Front and center, said dad who hangs her very first Halloween creation from a bush about six feet away from "Nightmare's" Mayor and Clown characters. Powers said his neighbors, who live on the same cul-de-sac, have been supportive even though hundreds will line his sidewalk on weekend evenings to marvel at the masterpiece. "The neighbor kids love it. When I first put it up, they'll be over here checking to see what's new and letting me know if I've moved a character even by a few inches." If you'd like to see Powers' version of Halloween Town, it will be in full operation this weekend, Friday through Sunday, from dusk until around 8:30 p.m.

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