Anthony Nobles could be considered the real-life Tony Stark of Sunset Beach.
Nobles, an entrepreneur, a biomedical engineer and the CEO of multiple companies that design medical devices, said he has an interest in developing new technologies and helping others, just like Stark, the Marvel character whose alter ego is Iron Man.
"I've been waiting for years to do a superhero theme," said Nobles, who has put on the free event for the last 18 years. "With all the movies lately, now just seemed like the best time. I also love inventing things, and I just thought I could do so many neat things with a superhero theme."
About two dozen volunteers dressed up as characters like Loki, Thor, Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Batman and Superman and performed in front of elaborate sets, posed for pictures and passed out candy to the nearly 3,000 attendees.
Some characters, like Spider-Man and The Vision, glided on zip lines above guests' heads to battle villains like the Green Goblin and Ultron.
Batman also stood in front of the real Batmobile, provided to Nobles for the event from the Peterson Automotive Museum, in Los Angeles. Batman's villains, including The Joker and Mr. Freeze, scared visitors in the haunted Arkham Asylum, which included 16 scenes.
Nobles also used his skills as an engineer on props like Storm and her electrocuted Statue of Liberty and wind tunnel.
"Superheroes appeal to adults and kids," Nobles said. "I saw a father and son who were both dressed as Superman. That, to me, was so cool. Babies, children, teens, adults and senior citizens were all dressed up."
In addition to the comic book heroes, real people thought of as heroic — firefighters and police officers — were also on the job, passing out candy, that is. A statue of
"I wanted the kids to see the everyday heroes and recognize them as that," Nobles said. "They're real superheroes."
Nobles, who changes up the themes each year — among them have been "Star Wars" and "The Wizard of Oz" — used to put on the event at his former Fountain Valley home, but it was destroyed by fire in 2013. He said his aim is to provide a fun and free event for all families, regardless of economic status.
The Nobles Family Foundation provides financial support and activities for underprivileged children and their families. It also sponsors other events, like Shop with a Cop, a holiday event that has police officers taking needy children on shopping sprees.
"I've been through a lot of adversities in my life, both as an adult and a child," said Nobles, who grew up in a poor area of Detroit. "As a child, I remember looking forward to Halloween because of the candy, which was a luxury.
"We'd have to literally go through each piece of candy and have to throw a lot of it away because we found razor blades and needles in them. I always said that when I grew up, I was going to have a Halloween where kids could just have fun and not worry about finding something bad in their candy."
Nobles declined to disclose how much money his foundation puts into the event but said putting smiles on the faces of so many people is priceless.