Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to life behind closed doors in a 4,000-square-foot workshop in Mountain View. They don’t walk, but they can talk, brandish swords and not spill a drop of grog.

The pirates are scheduled to return once again to the beachhead they established on Halloween four years ago – Pirate Manor on Manor Way in Los Altos – occupying the entire front yard of Dane Glasgow and his wife Jill’s Mediterranean-style house.

“But this year we have added animatronics,” Glasgow said.

The “show,” as he refers to it, will feature a dozen articulating creatures in addition to the skeleton crew, which first arrived by dinghy in 2010 and thereafter in a 35-foot schooner. The pirates have made village improvements such as adding a lighthouse, fortified tower and 12-foot-tall skull-shaped rock from which flows a waterfall.

The display is the Glasgows’ Halloween gift to the community – as well as a tribute to Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean.” If passersby and trick-or-treaters wish, they can leave gifts of food or money for Second Harvest Food Bank.

It has taken a village to build the pirate village. Glasgow and his crew of eBay Inc. co-workers and friends live and breathe Halloween for several months each year.

“We are a band of nerdy professionals who needed a creative outlet,” Glasgow said. “We have expertise in development, operations, carpentry, electronics and robotics – even law enforcement. Our patient and incredibly intelligent wives put up with madness year in, year out.”

A product of the “madness” is an interactive skeleton – the brainchild of Sean Crowe of Palo Alto – that will mimic the actions of a behind-the-scenes actor. It’s part of the challenge posed by Glasgow each year to top the year before.

To glean ideas for this year, Glasgow and his crew took a field trip to Disneyland and went round and round on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride, singing the “yo hos” of Disney’s “A Pirate’s Life for Me” as they went over the waterfall. Two crabs picking away at a pirate did not go unnoticed.

“We’ve added four crabs just to outdo Disney,” said Jon Langshaw of Santa Clara.

Also new this year is a swamp house with a rocking chair on the porch, fireflies above the village and more cannon power to keep away the riffraff (and rattle the neighbors’ windows). The cannons roll out, fire and retract just like the real deal.

On a recent weekend at the workshop, Mike Wilson and Pete Cowan, stalwarts from eBay, worked on cannons and creatures – nearly engulfed by a sea of electronic equipment, cords, computers, props, skeletons and more. Cowan pointed out that the pirates are both right- and left-handed, just one of the minute details that add realism.

Pirate Manor, located on Manor Way between Fremont and Miramonte avenues, is open for viewing 5-11 p.m. Oct. 29-31.

For a peek at the workshop and a preview of the show, visit

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