Welcome to the Boneyard: West Valley woman builds yard filled with tricks and treats for Halloween

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Courtesy of Michelle Jensen

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WEST VALLEY CITY (ABC4) – For most trick or treaters, finding a house that gives out full-size candy bars is enough to create the thrill of the night on Halloween.

In one West Valley City neighborhood, one house on the block elevates the Halloween decoration and treat distribution to levels that would leave even Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster quite impressed.

Michelle Jensen, who lives 4183 W. 3800 S. (she insists on including her address in this story, but adds that the setup isn’t quite ready yet) in West Valley has built a reputation for going above and beyond in decorating her home for the spooky season.

Inside the 15-foot tall faux lit towers that greet visitors to her house, lies an intricate assortment of purple and red lights, illuminating whatever theme Jensen has chosen for the “Boneyard” for that year.
This year, she’s chosen a musical motif held together with an eye-raising attention to detail. Deceased rock and rollers such as Buddy Holly, Elvis, and Amy Winehouse will be in attendance in skeleton form, with wigs and outfits that have been meticulously hand-shaped and crafted by Jensen.

While the finished product has yet to be realized, ABC4 crews who were in the neighborhood spoke to Jensen when the Boneyard was ‘about 10%’ complete earlier this week, were blown away.

As the kids would say, she’s very extra when it comes to Halloween.

“I’ve always enjoyed Halloween, but I think when my kids all moved out, it just became a creative outlet for me,” she explains to ABC4.com while jokingly asserting she’s not crazy. “I love to decorate, I love to design. You know, you buy one light and then pretty soon you have 13. You buy one fog machine and pretty soon you have five.”

Things at the Boneyard ramped up around five years ago, with a different theme each Halloween. Jensen’s ideas usually come from events that happen in her day-to-day life, outside of the fall seasons. One year, her family had an enjoyable trip to Cancun, so she did a beach-themed haunt. Another year, her daughter got married, so she put together an imagining of what a wedding at the Boneyard would look like.

While for some, the thought of how the neighbors would react to the incessant spooky glow and artificial fog that hangs over the house would be enough to not do it, Jensen doesn’t have that problem. Her neighbors love the yearly tradition. Needing to attend to family matters and getting a late jump on decorating this year, one neighbor teased her that he was worried there would be no Boneyard this year.

Jensen, who also works as a crossing guard and a beauty shop consultant, in addition to owning a cleaning service, says she still has a lot of work to do to get the Boneyard fully adorned in time for Halloween, but calls it a labor of love. Seeing the reactions of the folks, both young and old, who enjoy her efforts makes it all worthwhile.

“The kids are like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is amazing!’ We had an incident in the neighborhood and there were some kids outside and they were like, ‘Oh, you have the good candy at Halloween! You’re the lady that decorates!’” she says of her youngest fans. “They remember and they come back and I love the kids. Things are changing and these kids, they come in, they’re respectful, and they’re wonderful.”

Once the final bag of trick or treats has been passed out on Halloween – which Jensen stuffs into a medical glove full of goodies – the work begins on tearing down the Boneyard and putting it into storage until next year.

After all, Christmas will be right around the corner, and the 15-foot ominous towers have to be replaced with giant Nutcrackers in front of Jensen’s home, among many other holiday-themed decorations.

“I know it really sounds like I’m insane, but I’m actually a normal person,” she laughs. “I think when you appreciate that kind of stuff, it’s just fun and you appreciate all the love that goes into it.”

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