A spooky 12-foot-tall apparition appeared on Del Mar beach on Halloween night, framed by a fiery sunset. The fun part of Halloween was the creation of local puppeteer and designer Jacob Surovsky.
Surovksy, a longtime resident of Carmel Valley and a member of Canyon Crest Academy’s class of 2016, graduated this spring with a degree in arts, technology, and business innovation from the University of Southern California. Home since March due to the pandemic, he mainly does game design on his computer, but decided to embark on one of the biggest puppet projects he’s ever done, using the garage of his parents.
“I’ve wanted to build a giant puppet for a while, so it was nice to finally have the space and time,” he said.
Surovsky borrowed a back harness from her friend and mentor Lynne Jennings, president of the San Diego Puppet Guild, and began building the creature’s “bones” using items mostly found around the house.
He used PVC pipes, hoops, and ribbons of cardboard to construct the skeletal structure, then wrapped it in old sheets that were spray-painted to look more monstrous and aged. The haunting head was cardboard with tule like hair. With the backpack, the puppet basically sat on his shoulders and he was able to use sticks to move his arms and hands with duct tape claws.
On Halloween night, he took his “sea witch” to the beach.
“It was a lot of fun because I do a lot of live performances and it’s hard to find fun live performance opportunities to do that are always safe,” Survosky said, noting that the small number of people on the beach that evening were able to watch and take pictures from a safe distance.
With the “crazy” sky as the perfect backdrop, he got the chance to play and share his monstrous creation. Intended to be a temporary piece, the puppet started to crumble a bit and it started to get heavy so it only walked around for about 45 minutes.
“After so many months indoors and working in front of a computer, it was really fun to build something real and take it out into the world to share some Halloween magic,” Surovsky said.