If you’ve been following AtmosFANs of the Week, you’ll recognize the name Brandon Kootnekoff. He’s been entertaining his neighborhood in Grand Forks, British Columbia, with his Halloween displays for years. At the time, one of the things that really stood out was that Brandon wrote his own spooky music to accompany his detailed Halloween displays. You can see that profile here.
But we later learned that was just the beginning. What we didn’t know was that Brandon is recovering from a brain injury, and his music and Halloween displays are one of the tools he uses to recover. Not only is his Halloween display good for his community, but it is good for Brandon’s recovery.
To be sure, Brandon’s Halloween display stands on its own. He breaks his display into separate zones – the nautical-themed “Zombie Bay,” being the most detailed. There is a level of detail and attention to theme that you don’t see every day. The life-size paper maché props are handcrafted by Brandon, and the countless pumpkins are hand-carved. And then there is the atmospheric music he creates – it all comes together great.
Grand Forks is a rural town in southern British Columbia and community events are cherished. With the community observing COVID-19 precautions, Brandon says that some of the Halloween events like fireworks and a bonfire were canceled. Brandon saw that as an opportunity to jump in and create something safe and fun for his community.
“I wanted to create a display that people could look forward to seeing,” Brandon tells us.
Brandon says he reconfigured his Halloween display, orienting his scenes so they could be easily viewed by drive-by trick-or-treaters. Some of those re-adjustments included placing the AtmosFX Digital Decorations he uses – Phantasms, Zombie Invasion! among others – high up in the windows of his house so that they’d be easier to see.
“When it was all set up, it had more depth to it than previous years, which I was very pleased with,” he says. “I think I may do road-facing displays from now on.”
With a little help from a newspaper journalist in the area, Brandon was able to get the word out that his Halloween display would go on, despite the pandemic precautions. Brandon said 80 people stopped by his 2019 Halloween display; in 2020 it was 200. Clearly, it was a success for the community.
And, too, it was a success for Brandon. In 2012, Brandon had a brain tumor removed. His life changed dramatically, including having to withdraw from his postgraduate studies. But he also began to embrace those things that seemed to assist in his recovery.
“I began the very slow recovery process and occupied myself with two of my creative passions: Halloween prop making and music creation,” Brandon tells us. “As the years passed by, I noticed an improvement in my abilities to stay focused and to be creative – which resulted in an improvement in both the quality of my props and my music.
“This year’s display was not only for my entire community to enjoy,” he adds, “but also to show how people with brain injuries can work hard and be productive.”
What a great story, Brandon! We love how your Halloween displays are such an important part of your community and your health! If that isn’t AtmosFAN-worthy, we don’t know what is!
How do your digital decoration displays affect your community? We want to know! Whether it is Halloween, Christmas or any other holiday, send your photos and videos to us using this easy online submission form!