It had been floating around in Tony Nobles' mind that maybe he shouldn't put on his legendary Halloween extravaganza this year. It would be too soon after his home in Fountain Valley was destroyed by fire in January.
But organizing the free event for 15 years had become such a bright spot in his life that not doing it would be wrong. He couldn't have it in Fountain Valley, so he turned to Sunset Beach, where he and his family have lived since the fire.
"It's very hard for me to even go back to my house, which hasn't even begun construction yet," Nobles said. "I just couldn't get into doing it [in Fountain Valley] this year, and I'm a big part of this community. I figured it was time to be fair and come over here and do it for them."
As vice president of the Sunset Beach Community Assn., Nobles approached President Mike Van Voorhis to see if it would be all right to continue his Halloween night event, but on a much smaller scale.
What used to be 18 highly decorated homes in Fountain Valley, drawing about 30,000 people, has been downsized to a small block off 12th Street and Pacific Avenue.
"This is a much more scaled-down version because Mike and I are a part of the SBCA here, and the last thing I want to do is freak everybody out by doing a one-mile [event] the first time and everybody going nuts," Nobles said. "The whole idea here is to introduce it to the community and see what they think about it."
Every Halloween event put on by Nobles has been themed. He's done "Star Wars," Dungeons and Dragons and "The Lord of the Rings." But since he decided to go through with the event on such late notice, he opted to repeat last year's motif, which borrowed from "The Wizard of Oz."
Nobles said he did the best he could to recreate as many parts of the movie as possible. One section portrays the tornado scene at the beginning of the movie while the giant head of Oz overlooks the community lot.
But to get to Oz, visitors will have to walk through the Sunset Beach Community Center building, where actors dressed as witches and other characters from the movie will wander around. A dozen or so animatronic creations, including winged monkeys and fighting trees, will also entertain guests.
Nobles said several front lawns in Fountain Valley last year made up the haunted forest scene while a few other houses were Munchkinland.
"If I did this full scale, [Sunset Beach residents] may shoot me," he said with a laugh.
Nobles didn't want to disclose the cost of organizing the Halloween event, but said it wasn't too expensive because he had most of the equipment from the previous year's festivities.
"If you can do it, you do it because you want to do it," Van Voorhis said. "It's like owning a boat: It makes no sense whatsoever but it's a lot of fun. And that's the way Tony looks at this. People enjoy it and that's all that matters."
If you go
What: Sunset Beach Halloween
Where: Sunset Beach Community Center, 12th Street and Pacific Avenue
When: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday
Cost: Admission is free