In His Bones

Halloween may be in October, but for one Valley resident it’s been front and center since summer. Rick Polizzi has been busy working with his team to put on one of the most spectacular holiday displays in all of LA.

An Emmy award-winning producer on The Simpsons for more than a decade, and as creative director for the 20th Century Fox theme park in Dubai, Rick Polizzi certainly has a sense of how to entertain the masses. And if one had any doubt, all they’d need to do is visit his Sherman Oaks property in late October, when his modest yard gets transformed into a live event known as Boney Island.

“It’s like a big amusement park right at the house—a skeleton amusement park,” he chuckles.

More than a hundred skeletons are the stars of the show. Rigged with string to act essentially like animatronic puppets, they perform from every corner of the property. Skeletons dance from the rooftop of the house; they dangle from trees; they spin, sitting in cauldrons, on an amusement park-like ride. A complex audio system—via a computer placed inside Rick’s house—orchestrates sound throughout.

“It’s really amazing—so cool to experience in person. Shocking in the level of detail and effort put forth by the homeowners. Each year it’s better and better and has turned into one of LA’s most exciting Halloween places to visit. My favorite feature is the tree house. It is covered in giant pumpkins that interact with all the glowing lights,” says local Alan Taylor.

Rick may fund the Halloween extravaganza alone (to the tune of thousands of dollars each year), but he has a group of about 10 people, many of whom are in the industry, help build and assemble. He works on the weekends and says, “We start planning in July. Then in August we start putting stuff up. The whole process really takes about six months.”

He kicked off Boney Island back in 1997, and pretty much every year since (save a couple) Rick has played host to thousands of people over a 10-day period. The display is open during the evenings up until the 31st. He estimates 50,000 came in October 2016.

Lots of celebrities have visited, including Halle Berry, Dave Grohl and Gisele Bundchen. “Mayor Garcetti came last year!” Rick quips.

But what do all the neighbors think about thousands flooding their quiet, charming nook just north of the Boulevard each fall? Alan, a realtor who does a fair bit of business in the enclave, says you really have to understand this particular area to get why it all works. With so many showbiz types in the neighborhood, from a creative perspective, most truly appreciate what Rick does.

“Sure there are a handful of neighbors who are concerned and that’s understandable, since people can be naturally protective of their space. Some have a hard time with the traffic and congestion. But if you celebrate Halloween as many do, there’s nothing better than ‘trick or treating’ in your neighborhood when homeowners go all out. It’s fun!” says Alan.

Rick’s wife, Carla, and their two 20-something daughters apparently share that affinity.

“They’ve always liked it. It is a lot of work. Every year I say, ‘I’m not gonna do it this year; it’s too much.’ And then I do it all over again,” he laughs.