How one mild-mannered technologist transforms himself into the Crypt Keeper for the scariest night of the year.
By Kristi Delynko
You hear a scream, then a door slams and the lights begin to flicker. You’re alone in the dark hallway when you feel a cold draft pass beside you. A moan rises from the floor below as a zombie emerges from the top of the staircase, dead eyes staring into your soul. …
No, this isn’t a nightmare; you’re just visiting the home of Patrick McCoy, IT application developer for Denver Water. McCoy spends his days working with technology — which admittedly, many find terrifying — and his time outside of work pursuing creative endeavors, including his passion for cheesy horror movies.
Every year, McCoy spends countless hours preparing for his favorite holiday: Halloween. As the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to change color, McCoy pulls boxes of decorations out of storage and transforms his 1885 Victorian home into a haunted destination. Complete with a graveyard, fog machines, zombies, demonic children, creepy clowns, and more, hundreds of trick-or-treaters come from near and far to test their courage at McCoy’s home.
“It’s an all-hands production,” said McCoy. “We spend thousands of dollars on candy, and many friends volunteer to help out, including several of my Denver Water co-workers.”
Holly Geist, senior records analyst for Denver Water, loves handing out candy each year to the children — and adults — brave enough to enter. “They go all out on the decorating front,” said Geist. “He brings horrifying to everything he does, including a little boy figure eating human flesh and decaying little girls singing and swaying on a porch swing.” The house does sometimes scare the younger children, she admitted.
So how does a guy who loves art, special effects and costuming choose a career in the field of technology?
In fact, there’s plenty of overlap there. Using technology in creative ways is simply in McCoy’s DNA.
“When I was 5, I built an alarm for my room. At age 8, I created my first stop-motion film of a space fight,” said McCoy.
“Years later, I joined the military. I wanted to write, but the military’s test determined I should go into computers.”
After serving in the Air Force, where he used satellites to find buildings and locations from space, he took a job in finance, staying far away from computers. But about 10 years later, while working on his master’s degree in web design and technologies at the University of Denver, he found a renewed interest in IT. “I was able to find creativity in web design, which helped re-energize me,” he said.
Although IT allows McCoy to tap into his creativity occasionally at Denver Water, he fuels his artistic passion outside of the office sculpting, painting and designing costumes.
In addition to preparing his house for Halloween, McCoy puts even more effort into designing and creating his elaborate Halloween costumes each year, a passion he discovered in 2003. He ran a small video production company and took courses in makeup and costume design to help the business.
Those classes inspired him to learn more about creating masks and special effects, and sparked an interest in sewing and costume design.
He finds inspiration in unusual places. His adopted terrier/border collie, Phil, was the catalyst for a hand-sewn dog/werewolf costume. (“I don’t think people really knew what to make of it,” he said.) And the bark from a tree in his backyard spurred a tree dragon character, a design that McCoy worked on every weekend for an entire year. It comprised 150 custom pieces of molded, hand-painted bark that he sewed to the costume by hand. In the end, it weighed 150 pounds.
When McCoy began working at Denver Water in 2013, he was excited to enter the employee Halloween costume contest.
In 2015, he hand-sewed a 1860s style suit for a “Day of the Dead” zombie clown costume. “It was quite literally custom,” said McCoy. “I’m self-taught, and I don’t know how to create patterns or use a sewing machine, so I actually held the pieces of fabric up to myself and sewed them together that way.” He completed the look using clay to sculpt foam into a handmade mask with a silicone brain to top it off. That hard work paid off, as he landed second place in the contest, coming in right behind the Finance team dressed as a roller-coaster.
McCoy continues to find ways to marry his love of cheesy horror movies and creative spirit with his interest in technology. “My next endeavor is to learn more about animatronics and electronics so I can create moving puppets.”
That will really raise the creepiness threshold at his house this Halloween, for sure.