It is time. The extra chill is in the air. The laughter of children is tinged with an edge of eeriness. The black cat’s caterwaul sends shivers dancing down the spine. Yes, it is Halloween and we all know what that means: It’s time to revisit one of the internet’s great videos, the infamous local Nebraska news segment from Halloween in 2006, featuring a spooktacular pumpkin head dance the likes of which the world has never seen and will never again. As Videogum put it when the video first started to pick up steam, “You could spend the rest of your life looking for a better pumpkin head dance and you’d die a f****** failure.”
The story behind the video is not as good as the video because how could it be, but it’s still very excellent. Matt Geiler was the anchor of the nightly newscast at KXVO, the Omaha CW affiliate, and the station was experimenting with a lighter, funnier tone for newscasts. As Geiler recounts, he was told that “We only need a minute-and-a-half of news upfront and then you can do whatever you want. I don’t care.”
They had a few goofy Halloween ideas, but Geiler told his boss that “I’ve got this one thing where I put on a unitard and a pumpkin head and dance at people’s graves. I want to call it ‘Happy Jack: The Grave Dancer.'”
It’s difficult to determine the exact point at which an idea becomes a legend, but in this case, it wasn’t immediately. The segment came and went with nobody paying much attention to it, although it did get dropped on YouTube, which was still in its infancy. And then in 2009, the video took off like wildfire thanks to places like Buzzfeed and Videogum, and Geiler’s genius received its due.