Tony has been bringing elaborate Halloween displays to his local neighborhood for over fifteen years. It all started at his home in Fountain Valley the year he took a real skeleton from his lab and some spare parts of equipment to create a spooky display on his driveway for the neighborhood kids during Halloween. Tony set up a fog machine, some strobe lights, and fake “guts” on a table that looked like it was prepped for surgery.
Since this initial display over fifteen years ago, Tony’s Halloween displays have grown exponentially, involving elaborate lighting, hydraulics, mechanics, custom sound effects, backdrops, and even real actors and camels during some years. Up until two years ago when Tony’s family home suffered a devastating fire, the displays on his block became something of a community event that eventually involved the participation and help of eighteen homes on the block. What started as a creative desire to do more for neighborhood trick-or-treaters became something of a local legend enjoyed by numbers of about 30,000 trick-or-treaters and families during the last year the event was held in Fountain Valley.
Tony grew up poor, in a ghetto of Detroit, Michigan, where Halloween wasn’t the carefree family event many know it to be. When asked about why he creates these elaborate displays for kids, and why he is so willing to fund the entire event on his own each year, Tony will often speak about his childhood memories that could be any parents’ worst nightmare. He recounts having had to check for razor blades in apples and needle holes in chocolate, and the scariest part was that every year he actually found these things.
Tony’s childhood experiences were a huge driving force for Tony to create an event that is fun, safe, family-oriented, and free for anyone who comes out to enjoy it. Tony and his wife focus most of their philanthropic efforts in the world of youth and education, as Tony’s youth was particularly traumatic; because of this, he never had the opportunity he has provided to so many–to embark upon a traditional, formal education. When Tony commits to putting on an elaborate no-cost Halloween event each year, he does it with the understanding that events like Knott’s Scary Farm, Disneyland’s Mickey’s Halloween Party, and Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights may be great fun, but not every kid, or even adult, can afford to go to such an event. Tony loves coming up with new and creative ways to provide his own event each year, where anyone can enjoy it, no matter their financial situation.
Over the last several years, Tony, with much help from his neighbors, family, and friends, constructed huge displays on up to eighteen homes on the block. Sets, props, and backdrops were designed and built by Golden West College design student volunteers, and each display was professionally lighted, with custom made sound effects and hydraulics.
Tony and his wife have chosen various themes over the years, including: a castle plagued by dragons, haunted Egypt, haunted fairy tales, Lord of the Rings, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, pirates, Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, and several others that have brought neighbors, kids, and families together for a fun, free event on Halloween night.
After Tony’s home was destroyed by the fire, he and his family moved to their home in Sunset Beach, California. Tony has continued his passion for creating this exciting, free of cost event by working with the local community association. For the last two years he has created a somewhat smaller, yet still exciting and enjoyable family event at the Nobles Family Community Building in Sunset Beach.
Most recently, Tony built a pyramid enclosing a maze with a sand floor, complete with hydraulic displays of tombs, and actor volunteers from the Golden West College design program hiding inside as part of a haunted Egypt themed event. The walls of the maze were painted with Arabic script, hieroglyphs, theme appropriate murals, and even certain symbols the Stargate SG-1 fan might recognize. Outside the pyramid were family and volunteers passing out candy and glow necklaces; the lovable camel Samson of the local Oasis Camel Dairy and his wonderful handlers; a belly dancer; and several statutes and scenes that were set up for great family photo opportunities. Tony even replicated King Tut’s tomb inside of the community building.
This was the second year Tony has put on a Halloween event at the Nobles Family Community Building (the previous year’s theme being The Wizard of Oz), and while several themes have been suggested by friends, Tony is looking forward to the possibility of a superhero themed event in 2015.
Haunters is a documentary project being put together by filmmaker Jon Schnitzer, and he has included Tony as a local “haunter.” He has authored the following regarding Tony’s involvement in the documentary:
Tony shares his passion for Halloween and how he uses his creative genius to not only make the world a better place, but to create the ultimate Halloween party where everyone is invited. Tony is featured in HAUNTERS The Movie, a documentary about the visionaries who create the most popular and the most scary haunted houses for Halloween. Tony really stands out in HAUNTERS because he’s not trying to scare people with Halloween he’s trying to inspire kids and make adults believe in magic again and it’s a gift he gives away for free.
By pre-ordering the movie for only $20 (or for $5 more with special features and soundtrack) you help makes HAUNTERS a better movie and you will help shine a light on the great work Tony does. Tony isn’t in the preview because we were only able to film him recently because when he’s not busy with Halloween he’s busy inventing medical devices to help save lives.
We’re so excited to showcase Tony’s love for Halloween in HAUNTERS The Movie, a documentary that’s heartwarming, funny, at times scary and strangely inspiring documentary.
HAUNTERS – The Movie http://kck.st/1wNMjmm
HAUNTERS The Movie – Director/Producer