Carmel Valley puppeteer brings Halloween magic to the beach

Carmel Valley resident Jacob Surovsky built a giant puppet for Halloween night.
Carmel Valley resident Jacob Surovsky built a giant puppet for Halloween night.

A spooky, 12-foot tall apparition appeared on the beach in Del Mar on Halloween night, framed by a sunset on fire. The bit of Halloween fun was the creation of local puppeteer and designer Jacob Surovsky.

Surovksy, a lifelong Carmel Valley resident and member of Canyon Crest Academy’s class of 2016, graduated this spring from the University of Southern California with a degree in arts, technology and the business of innovation. Home since March due to the pandemic he has been doing mostly game design on his computer but decided to take on one of the largest puppetry projects he has ever done, making use of his parents’ garage.

“I’ve wanted to build a giant puppet for awhile so it was nice to finally have the space and the time,” he said.

Jacob Surovsky wearing the skeleton of the puppet at his home.

Surovsky borrowed a back harness from his friend and mentor Lynne Jennings, the president of the San Diego Guild of Puppetry, and began building up the creature’s “bones” using items that were mostly found around the house.

He used PVC pipes, hula hoops and ribbons of cardboard to build the skeletal structure and then wrapped it in old bedsheets that were spray painted to look more monstrous and aged. The haunting head was made of cardboard with tule as hair. With the backpack, the puppet was essentially sitting on his shoulders and he was able to use sticks to move the arms and duct tape claw hands.

On Halloween night he took his “Sea Witch” to the beach.

“It was very fun because I do a lot of live performances and it’s hard to find live performance opportunities that feel fun to do and that are still safe,” Survosky said, noting that the small number of people on the beach that night were able to watch and snap photos from a safe distance.

Jacob Surovsky's Sea Witch.

With the “crazy” sky as the perfect backdrop, he enjoyed the chance to perform and share his monstrous creation. Meant to be a temporary piece, the puppet began to fall apart a little and it began to grow heavy so he was only out walking around for about 45 minutes.

“After so many months spent inside and working in front of a computer, it was really fun to build something real and get to take it out into the world to share some Halloween magic,” Surovsky said.