The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Museum held its first-ever Bones’ Gulch haunted maze at the Jack Bones Equestrian Center, drawing in hundreds looking for a fright.
While the location already had some pre-built structures to make the setting look like an Old West town, volunteers have been working since May to turn it into the haunted settlement that attendees saw on Sunday.
The event was organized by Scott Sivley, who had decades of experience with Halloween-themed set design.
Sivley said after turning his house into a haunted attraction for 50 years – an event called “Beware the Dark Realm” – he was surprised to see two sheriff’s detectives show up at his door.
“They showed up to my house, looked it over and said, ‘You know what? We’d like you to come to do something for us here at the equestrian center for fundraisers.’ They haven’t done one in three years, So they were due to have one anyway,” said Sivley. “I came down here, checked the whole place out. It’s huge… So I was like, well, I’m gonna need help.”
The two other projects that collaborated with Sivley were “Restless Souls Manor” and “The Farm Haunt,” the former being based in Palmdale, the latter in Castaic. Both have garnered a reputation as favorites for those in search of a scare.
The event ran every Saturday night throughout October, but on Sunday organizers offered a family-friendly version, during the day, free of charge. This event allowed parents to bring their young children on a tour of the grounds and walk through the maze without the terror of traversing it at night.
The family event also featured a magic show, done by The Amazing Juandini – a magician who’s performed at The Magic Castle in Hollywood and is a sheriff’s deputy himself.
Proceeds from the night events and portions of merchandise sales during Sunday’s event went toward the Sheriff’s Museum, which is currently at the Hall of Justice in Downtown L.A.
Deputy Sonia Castro, who works with the Sheriff’s Information Bureau and at the Sheriff’s Museum, said the money raised at the event will go toward maintaining their classic cars, digitizing old records and photos – some dating back to the 19th century — and to opening up a yet-to-be-determined dedicated location for the museum.
“We love that we’re able to do community outreach because, like today, we made sure that we were going to have a children’s day because the rest of our haunts were all at night, [they’re] scare haunts,” said Castro. “We wanted to make sure that we could have one day for community outreach, to let everyone know there’s a different side to the department.”
Michael Fratantoni, curator for the Sheriff’s Museum and a custody deputy within the department, said learning about the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s history goes hand-in-hand with learning about the county’s history.
“You can’t talk about the history of Los Angeles County without the Sheriff’s Department. We’ve been here since day one, when the county was formed. We were formed. So it’s a great history and we like to share it with everybody,” said Fratantoni. “Our whole thing is community. We want to reach out to the community. We want to talk to people, interact with people, show them our collection and get some interest in it. So this is a great way to just interact. Halloween and Christmas are kind of the biggest events of the year. So this is what we’re focusing on.”
Danielle Youpa, an attendee at the event with her kids, said she liked the fact that there was a family-friendly option for her youngest.
“It’s nice because it’s close to home,” said Youpa. “So this was really convenient for one, also I really like it because it’s quite small. It’s so much easier with a little person.”