August 5, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Clay Lidgett was about 5 years old, he was already dressing up in Ghostbusters outfits. While other kids pretended to be Michelangelo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or He-Man, Lidgett wanted to be Egon Spengler.

Like most childhood obsessions, his passion faded over time. He grew up, took on responsibility, and Ghostbusters fell to the wayside. Until just over a year ago. That’s when Lidgett stumbled upon a website devoted to all things Ghostbusters: cartoons, games, discussion forums, and yes, information on how to build your very own proton pack.

“I found out it was actually possible to build one of these myself. I didn’t know of the entire Ghostbusters community out there,” he says.

Lidgett set out to build the famous contraption designed to hold negatively charged ectoplasmic entities (i.e., ghosts). Over the course of one year, from March 2015 to 2016, Lidgett devoted five to six hours a week to soldering, gluing, screwing, and fitting together the roughly 100 pieces required to make an authentic Ghostbusters proton pack.

“There is an extremely vast amount of detailed information that is available. All of the exact measurements that you need, the exact part numbers, everything that you need is on the internet.”

ClayLidgett2His labor of love and rekindled passion for Ghostbusters coincided with announcements that a new Ghostbusters film would be released in 2016: “I started this before I knew the new movie was coming out. It was complete coincidence.”

His wife was supportive of his project, though their two children were the most excited. Lidgett actually purchased a proton pack for his children just like the one he had when he was a kid. This Halloween, he plans to create elaborate costumes with his children.

But when it comes to building another proton pack, Lidgett says, “No more packs…well, at least not as of right now.” He found a person who sells pieces for an exact replica of the original proton pack at 40 percent scale, and he has considered making them for his children.

Because of the support he received and the community he found in the process, Lidgett is quick to offer support to anyone else interested in creating their own proton pack or organizing to celebrate their love of Ghostbusters.

“I have been in contact with a lot of people who have been very, very helpful throughout the process. All of them have been very cool, very generous with their time,” he says.

In particular, Lidgett struck up a friendship with another fan from Michigan who helped guide him through the tedious construction process. Once Lidgett finished his outfit—he didn’t just build a proton pack; he also crafted his very own costume, complete with exact replica boots and a jumper with his name on the patch—the friend sent him a pin to celebrate his accomplishment and commemorate the late Harold Ramis, the actor who originally played Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters.

Come Halloween, Lidgett will be gearing up. His proton pack illuminates with flashing lights and hums like a radioactive generator. The pack also features a hidden speaker controlled by his proton gun. It blasts the Ghostbusters theme song, a warning to potential nefarious spirits: “I ain’t afraid of no ghost.”

Visit gbfans.com for more information. Omaha Magazine