By Michelle Halloween
Every October night, in the seemingly quiet suburb of Rancho Cucamonga, there is a beacon of red light that draws in the eyes of the mundane. The Hellisr Cemetery yard display has grown in popularity amongst the residents of Rancho Cucamonga and those from afar over the last few years. As a resident of Rancho Cucamonga myself, I had always passed the Hellsir Cemetery while taking my kids to school and offered a silent “Thank you” for making the routine bearable. Well, at least during September and October. So, it was with great surprise and pride when I discovered Hellsir Cemetery had a full-fledged display within the Hall of Shadows at Midsummer Scream this past August. I’ve been watching the progress of the cemetery via social media and to be honest I drove past, in a very stalker-like style, just to add to my Halloween spirit. I had to make it a priority to visit on opening night.
Upon arriving at the home of Sal and Claire Garnica there is a towering mausoleum with “Helllsir Cemetery” written in ominous red writing. Fog billows out from above the facade giving it a real haunting impression. There are ghostly scenes within the mausoleum if one dares to watch. I was mesmerized by the scenes but, then my attention was drawn to the details of the tombstones that dotted the entire front yard. Everyone from Lizzy Borden to Dracula is buried here! There are sudden movements from groundbreaking ghosts and zombies and the whole scene is eerily lit by candles. On the east side of the yard is a horse-drawn hearse. The horse long passed away, the carriage is settled amongst a small pumpkin patch. But, these pumpkins aren’t for plucking. For who would dare reach for the gourds with the open casket and surprise inside. This is not just a typical yard display creepies! The details will make you feel like you are lost in the graveyard. Even during daylight!
I had the pleasure to be able to spend some time talking with Sal and Claire while admiring their display. The couple is so vibrant and their energy is contagious. The couple began decorating their yard in 2009. Both Sal and Claire have been lifelong lovers of Halloween but Sal was inspired by his father who used to frequent Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween Haunt in the ’70s. Sal’s Dad would also decorate his home in a Boothill type of cemetery way. Upon his Father’s passing in 2006, Sal took over the reins of decorating. Claire also loved Halloween as a kid and would spend her summer vacations renting and watching horror movies. She didn’t have anyone to share her passion for the genre and Halloween itself until she met Sal. Who doesn’t love when two spooky souls come together? When Sal and Claire met in 2007 they birthed their first-yard display as a married couple in only two years. And look at all they have achieved!
Hellsir Cemetery has grown every year since. Sal noted with pride that they look back on their beginnings and thought how cool their display was and laugh about it now because the cemetery is bigger and more detailed than ever. The Garnica’s love coming up with new ideas and spend their time in the offseason writing up new ideas for each October.
The Hellsir Cemetery is located at 10522 Lemon Ave, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737. And is open from now through November 2nd. Weekdays they are open from 6pm-10pm and on weekends from 6pm to 12pm.