Each Halloween season, Boot Hill rises from the grave and brings Old West terror and mayhem to the otherwise-friendly streets of Woodbridge in Irvine, California. One of the most elaborate home haunts in the Southland, Boot Hill is a visually stunning mixture of high-tech spookery and good old-fashioned jump scares that is family-friendly and can be toned up or down on the fly, depending on the age of visitors.
I have a hand in the legacy of Boot Hill; I co-created it with Shea Foley more than 15 years ago, writing its back story and developing the look and directing the custom soundtrack that was done for us by my long-time pal, the insanely talented Andy Garfield. Back then, it was pretty much unheard of for home haunts to have custom scores written – however, it was something we all just wanted to do; it felt like the right thing to do, to support the story. In a lot of ways, I think Boot Hill was ahead of the home haunt curve, taking its cue from the legendary Hallowed Haunting Grounds that existed once upon a time in Studio City, California.
Since its humble beginning, Shea and another one of our great friends, Glenn Schmidt, have led a team of haunters in taking Boot Hill to new levels; it’s become bigger and better each season. 2014 was no different, as residents turned out in droves to see what horrors lurked in the darkness at the residence at 16 Goldenrod. No one was disappointed.
In addition to special effects at every turn, the Boot Hill haunt features a solid crew of guys and gals that are creepy and downright terrifying. Some monsters lurk, some lunge, and others slide – guests who show fear are often chased down the sidewalk, screaming into the night! It’s a pretty awesome display of Halloween goodness, and thousands witness it each Halloween season.
One of the newest additions in 2014 (each year, the team tweaks and adds new elements to the yard display) was a talking scarecrow with a Jack O’Lantern for a head, next to the haunt’s photo op – a really cool projection gag that left kids enchanted and adults grinning as they watched and snapped pictures.
Boot Hill is a free home haunt, with a portion of their donations going to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). As usual, we strongly recommend giving what you can – even if it’s a buck or two – when you visit. It costs a lot of time and money to create Boot Hill each season, and we love that the team continues to give to CHOC year after year – a win-win for everyone involved.
Each year, the question of longevity comes into play – the residence where Boot Hill is created every Halloween belongs to Shea’s mom. With Shea having two young kids of his own and no one getting younger on the team, the challenge of resurrecting this elaborate haunt each season always hangs in the balance. It’s a year-by-year endeavor with no promise of another season ever truly locked in until GO time each year. That makes every visit to Boot Hill special – one of these days, it’ll fade away like the Old West itself.
Huge props and love to this team; yet another spectacular season under their belts – here’s to more to come!
– Rick West
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