Halloween laser show delights all ages

The lights fade and the music crescendos. The first beams collide with the dome universe. A collective “woah,” seeps from the crowd’s gaping mouths as they’re reclined and brought into a colorful atmosphere.

That’s the moment Zach Thompson lives for.

“You can see laser shows anywhere, but if you see it in a planetarium it’s a truly spectacular sight because it’s all around you,” the Ralph Mueller Planetarium director said.

The planetarium, located in the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, hosted its Family Halloween Laser Spooktacular show on Friday, Oct. 10. The Halloween Spooktacular is part of a series of laser shows the planetarium hosts to raise money for its regularly scheduled showings and events.

October is “LaserFest” for the planetarium because it has three shows throughout the month. A Halloween-themed show is the main attraction, but a classic rock and Pink Floyd show are also offered.

Thompson said Mueller Planetarium has a 30-year history of using lasers. In fact, he said, it’s the first planetarium in Nebraska to do laser shows. The planetarium used to have its own laser projector, but it burnt out and it has since rented the equipment.

The planetarium usually sells out the laser shows, which total around 75 tickets at five and six dollars each. It costs around $500 to rent the equipment, which comes with the show programmed on the computer. Thompson said the planetarium can easily make back its expenses with one sold-out show.

Schuyler Geery-Zink, a senior global and religious studies major and planetarium assistant, said she appreciates the opportunity to have the laser shows.

“I don’t know anything about programming, but it looks complex,” Geery-Zink said. “I admire the work that was put into this show.”

Sam Conner, one of Thompson’s assistants, said the music is what brings people together for the show.

“The music is really including,” he said.

Conner, an undeclared sophomore, said the music is from a plethora of eras, so the laser shows are enjoyable for all ages.

Anna Wise, a nine-year-old from Lincoln, attended the Friday show with her mom, dad and little sister.

“My favorite part (of the show) was two songs,” she said. “The ‘Monster Mash’ and the ‘Purple People Eater’ because I have them both on my music player.”

Conner said the Halloween shows draw families and crowds that clap and sing along to the classics, such as “Monster Mash,” “Thriller,” and “Ghostbusters.”
The classic rock and Pink Floyd shows cater to an older crowd who can enjoy the music in a different way.

“The laser projector is really nice, but I really think it’s about a group of people getting together to listen to music,” Conner said.

Anna’s mom, Amy Wise, 40, said she found out about the show from a friend who saw it in the Lincoln Journal Star. Amy said the laser show provided a fun family night.

Thompson said one of the best parts about the Halloween Spooktacular laser shows is that the songs are familiar to all ages.

“Even if they’re not, it’s still pretty darn fun,” Thompson said. “And the lasering is beautiful.”

Roger Geery, 62, of Lincoln, saw the Halloween and Pink Floyd shows Friday. Before grabbing a seat, Geery said he didn’t know what to expect. He’d previously seen other shows at Mueller Planetarium, where his daughter currently works, but never a laser show. He was excited to see how lasers and music cooperate while supporting the planetarium.

But he gushed excitement about one particular show: Pink Floyd.

“It’s hard to beat that,” Geery said.

Thompson said he’s planning laser shows for next month and February 2015, which will feature Top 40 hits.

“One of the reasons I want to keep having laser shows at the planetarium is to let people know that we exist,” he said. “We hope that they walk away with a great impression and want to see what else we do here.”

The last dates for the Halloween Spooktacular shows are Oct. 17-18 and 24 at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“We don’t want people to miss out on this gem at the university,” Thompson said.

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