'Just the spookiest things we could find': Woodbury family studies up on high tech, transforms home into haunted mansion

Rich Reeve
Updated: October 30, 2020 10:40 PM
Created: October 30, 2020 10:32 PM

Because of the pandemic, Melissa and Mukul Tripathi have been spending a lot of time at home.

And, it's paid off, just in time for the scariest day of the year.

"She learned video editing tools, and I learned woodworking," Mukul said. "The story started with my wife. She is deeply into Halloween."

For weeks, Melissa surfed the internet, learned how to digital edit and create projection mapping software that matched spooky images to the contours of their house.

"I used a lot of internet and YouTube videos," she recalled. "It was a computer program that we were using, and I kind of taught myself," she added with a laugh.

In just a few short weeks, she taught herself how to use a miniature computer to play a three-dimensional video file, which connects to a projector.

The result? A Halloween projection show filled with ghosts and goblins, witches and talking jack-o'-lanterns, right on the front of their house.

Neighbors started driving up, in groups of five to six cars, all keeping safe social distancing.

"It's very cool, very creative," exclaimed Betsy Struntz, who lives in Woodbury. "A little scary?" she was asked. "Yes, but in a good way," she laughed.

Melissa said she couldn't be more pleased.

"The house is just haunted, there are ghosts flying inside the windows," she said. "The doors will open, even though the doors actually stay closed."

In the safety of daylight, we went to find out the story behind this creepy house.

Turns out, Halloween is a bit of an obsession with Melissa.

"I love Halloween, it's my favorite holiday," she said. "It's definitely more than Christmas, unfortunately."

That was enthusiasm on full display, as KSTP chatted with the Tripathis in their front yard, also known as the boneyard.

"It's part of the Halloween theme," Mukul chuckled. "Skeleton dogs, skeleton bats, skeleton humans. Different kinds of skeletons. There's actually more in our basement."

All that high-tech knowledge is paying off.

"It's like a movie. When you go to a movie, the whole movie plays on the screen," Melissa said. "Well, our screen is the house. So I just made a movie."

It was Mukul's job to build a projection mount, and make sure the angle was perfect.

"I got into woodworking because of COVID, lots of time in the house," he said.

And so their nice suburban house has become something quite different after dark.

"When the new scene comes up, sometimes it'll have a cauldron, sometimes it'll have window or something," exclaimed the Tripathi's son, Nikhil. "It all depends on how she makes the doors open, what the scene looks like."

"Awesome, it's so creative and really fun. It's just a cool thing to do, especially this year," Struntz added. "Something fun."

Ghosts and goblins, getting the high-tech treatment.

The house has been on display from 6:30 p.m to 9:30 p.m. this week, and yes, they'll be doing it Halloween night, too.

The Tripathis said they won first prize for Halloween decorations from the Stonemill Homeowners Association.

They're already making plans for a special Christmas display.

"From what we've heard, they all love it," Melissa said. "Everybody's been commenting on this next door. They wish they could stay all night and watch it."

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