BOISE -- They say a man's home is his castle. This time of year that is certainly true for one Boise man.
You see, every Halloween Phil Ulmen turns his home into a castle -- Dracula's Castle.
It is a king-size production that you can't miss at 805 North 17th Street between Ada and Resseguie streets in the North End.
The 70-year-old retired phone company worker has been putting up the amazing display for the last 11 years.
"I'm trying to hit them with just a kind of mini experience of those black and white movies that a lot of us loved when we were kids coming up," said Ulmen.
The castle has 12-foot walls that nearly block out the entire front of Ulmen's house. A ghost flies from a boom and fishing line. "One motor moves the arms," said Ulmen. "That makes the arms go up and down."
Five gargoyles perch atop the castle walls, lighted stained-glass windows and sconces provide a spooky glow.
And then there's the main attraction; the big dragon complete with moving wings, glowing eyes and a mouth that really does breathe flames.
"Years ago I started thinking I want to have myself a fire-breathing dragon," said Ulmen.
So he built one from scratch using materials including PVC pipe, cut and painted milk bottle pieces for scales and furnace duct aluminum for the fire-breathing snout and jaw. The fire itself is fueled with propane.
Phil starts working on it on October 1, and puts in eight hour days, every day leading up to Halloween.
His experience building sets and props for community theater, and some serious backyard engineering, come in very handy for the project. It's a labor of love. "Or madness, or both," said Ulmen.
But the fuel that keeps the dragon burning year after year is not really the propane -- it's Ulmen.
"That dragon has become a part of living in the North End for a lot of these children, and I love that," said Ulmen. "You know, I'm crazy about kids. I always have been."
On Halloween night Ulmen dresses as Dracula to greet the trick-or-treaters who then get a chocolate gold coin from a helpless maiden chained to a rock. Why a helpless maiden chained to a rock? "Because that's what dragons do," explained Ulmen.
He wants his castle and all of its characters to be fun, but also just the right amount of scary for the kids.
"The ones that scream are usually the ones that are the most excited to come back next year and see it again," said Ulmen.
And no one will be happier than Ulmen when they do.