The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 7, 2000


2000: A Space Odyssey

While most people spent New Year's Eve very earth-boundperhaps even couch-boundmore than 40 intergalactic space beings descended on the Cross Street home of Betsy and Steve Kendall to blast off into the new millennium.

It was all part of "2000: A Space Odyssey," the name of the Kendalls' gala, you-ain't-seen-nuthin'-like-this party, whose Martians, space cowboys and Jedi Knights included a dozen Carlisle residents.

"We've thrown a few big parties before, including one in which we created a rain forest in our house," said Betsy Kendall. "But this one was the biggest production. We probably spent more than 200 hours creating the party environment and making plans."

The party environment was outer space, made especially dramatic because of the Kendalls' 28-foot ceiling that spans a large portion of their house. The Kendalls constructed a network of wires nearly at ceiling level, then hung large, colorful papier mache planets, space stations, starfighters and other space vehicles from the wires using clear fishing line. Everything appears to float in the air.

Jupiter is a full two-and-one-half feet in diameter, while Saturn, including its rings, spans four feet. True to life, Mars has a space vehicle on its surface, and the moon, which is in various phases depending on where you stand, has an American flag planted on it. Off in one corner, a three-foot long scale model of the Starship Enterprise hovers 22 feet in the air.

"We used a lot of Styrofoam, a lot of glue and a lot of spray paint to construct everything," said Steve Kendall. "Most of the planets took five coats of papier mache. But the biggest challenge was hanging everything. I hope I never have to stand on a 16-foot step ladder for two entire days again."

On top of the network of wires, the Kendalls strung 200 feet of white Christmas tree lights, which glow like stars. "We even wrapped most of the lights with electrical tape so only some show. Otherwise, the density of the lights would be too great and it wouldn't look like the sky," explained Betsy Kendall.

Across one 30-foot span, a starship, complete with glowing "light sticks," can zip across the sky on "tracks" made of fishing line. In another area, a life-size astronaut floats in mid-air. Outside the front door, an alien with glowing eyes greets visitors. Even the bathrooms are adorned with fluorescent stars and nebulae.

None of this, however, was the star attraction. What really got the Kendalls' guests talking was the centerpiece of the galaxy, a 23-foot tall spaceship. It sits, ready for blast off, as if on a launch pad. The space ship lights up in five sections, sequentially from top to bottom. After the final section lights up, a strobe light illuminates the bottom of the space ship, where air blows out of four "thrusters." Red, yellow and orange crepe paper flutter as if flames were shooting out. A fog machine spews "smoke," and if the ceiling could open, it might seem as if the spaceship, dubbed the "Odyssey," would soar toward outer space.

The spaceship was the Kendalls' idea, but two friends, Jim Lochiatto, an art teacher, and John Buell, an electrician, helped with the engineering and construction. "Originally, we were just going to hang long strips of banquet table paper in a circular pattern, paint them, and call it a space ship. But then our creativity took over, and one thing led to another, and now we have something that people can't quite believe."

The whole scene looks great during the daykids and adults alike love picking out the planets from the third floor of the housebut at night it is truly space-like. The "stars" not only shine, but reflect in the Kendalls' 40-foot long wall of large windows, adding space-like depth to the environment.

"We're blessed with the perfect house for this, not to mention a lot of friends who were willing to dress up and get in a futuristic spirit at the turn of the millennium," said Steve Kendall. "The party was for adults only, so many people asked us if they could bring their kids to see the galaxy some other time. As a result, we're making time for friends and neighbors to see it. We want to share it, and to tell you the truth, we just aren't ready to tear it down."

One young boy the Kendalls don't know may even sneak a look at the scene. A Bell Atlantic repairman was working outside the Kendalls' house recently, and after he asked for a peak at what he saw through the windows, he said, "Would you mind if I bring my son back here some day and just park in the driveway so he can look in?"

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito