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Visit if you dare ... Haunted Castle

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By Vince Luecke

Medieval structure made of foam turns heads in Cannelton; live show planned Halloween night

CANNELTON - What do you get by combining dozens of foam blocks, nine cans of spray paint, 50 hours of work and a little creativity? When you're Chris Blake, the result is a haunted castle that becomes Halloween central in Cannelton.

Blake's 50-foot-long castle on Fourth Street boasts a height of 15 feet and nearly obscures his home. A longtime Halloween fan, Blake has been welcoming curious visitors for nearly two weeks, many of whom first took notice when construction began.

"People were like 'What are you building?' but as they saw it take shape, they thought it was pretty cool, too," Blake said Sunday. "Now they're bringing their kids to see it."

There's little doubt the castle is haunted. Menacing figures leer from behind walls and barred windows, including a creepy Mr. Bones with a black patch over one eye and, on the other end, a sad chap who has literally lost his mind and proves it by lifting his head from his shoulders whenever bothered.

"Is it going to be trick or treat?" the ghoul asks hauntingly.

"It's all for fun but I'm pretty proud of it," quips Blake, who used to host haunted trails and already had most of the Halloween props used for the castle. The castle is illumined at night, adding to its eeriness.

The building blocks came from Orscheln, the farm and garden store store in Tell City. For three years, Blake collected the thick foam blocks that cushioned metal farm and utility trailers delivered to the store by the truckload. He warehoused them in an adjoining rental home before coming up with the project this fall.

Cans of spray-foam insulation mortared the blocks in place and red and black spray paint turned the otherwise white blocks into realistic-looking stone. Excluding his labor, Blake has only about $25 invested in spray paint, foam insulation and miscellaneous supplies.

Blake hopes to obtain more blocks for future projects, including a 50-foot pirate ship he's designing and a float for Cannelton's annual Christmas parade.

"I'd be interested in working with a community group who would like to work on a project," he said.

With Halloween a week away, the castle is sure to receive more visitors in days ahead, Blake predicts, as word spreads.

Live actors will replace the mechanical props Oct. 31, the day set aside for official trick-or-treating in Cannelton, Tell City and Troy. The public is invited to tour the castle that evening and parents are welcome to use the structure as a backdrop for photos of costumed kids.

"We'll have a good ol' time all evening," he promised.

The haunted castle is located at 222 N. Fourth St.