Halloweens past with the kids of Boca Grande

October 22, 2021
By T Michele Walker

It was a simpler time. A time when children would watch “Father Knows Best” and “The Brady Bunch” in their feety pajamas. A time when the best ride in town was a banana seat bicycle with playing cards clipped to the tire with a clothes pin. A time when children played outside for hours unsupervised, the streetlights coming on was their sign to go home for dinner.

From the 1960s through the 1980s there were a group of children who were raised in Boca Grande, and they have stories to share. For those who grew up on the island, Halloween was Christmas, Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one.

Island Television’s Rick Montgomery gathered these “Boca Kids” together to share their precious memories of Halloween, Boca Grande-style:

Rick Montgomery – “When you heard the church bells ring on Halloween night, you knew that the water balloon and shaving cream fight was on! Windows were soaped, and inevitably there would be a porta potty in the middle of town at some point during the evening. It wasn’t unusual to see things on top of the post office the day after Halloween. Toilet paper hung from the powerlines and the town was pretty much a mess. Avoiding the cops during the decoration of town was a challenge and a lot of fun. However, I do remember helping to clean up the day after.”

Annette Marie Hargis – “We had three goals at Halloween:

Number one: Block the intersection downtown so the school bus couldn’t get through the next day.

Number two: Soap up the windows really good.

Number three: Use pillowcases to collect candy because we got so much.”

Rick Montgomery – “Now that is the way I remember Halloween! Don’t forget the water balloon fights.

Annette Marie Hargis – “Oh, hell yea!”

Susan Spurgeon – “It’s Hotel Hell all over again! If you have a story, it shouldn’t be told.”

Rick Montgomery – “I agree. Some of these stories are legendary.”

Ann Hudson Brandt – “There was the haunted hayride through the woods where Boca Bay is now. The Halloween Carnival at the community center and hiding on the golf course and throwing water balloons at people when they went by.”

Julie Jean Robertson – “I remember one or two years in the 1980s. I was seven maybe eight, and we had a hayride through Boca Bay before it was Boca Bay, of course. The older kids would jump out and throw noodles. We ended at the Quarantine House that did an amazing, haunted house.”

Leslie Coleman – “I know nothing, but boy did we have fun.”

Judy McKee-Joy – “I plead the fifth, but yes, it sure was fun.”

Jackie Silcox Fogarty – “There were water balloons and shaving cream downtown.”

Carolyn Nabers – “Sure was, and we had to clean it up.”

Rick Montgomery – “Halloween in Boca Grande was like nowhere else in the world because you know if the cops did catch you, you would need to clean that up. But a kid back then wouldn’t get in the trouble they would today.”

Karen Montgomery – “I remember Eddie Bernard as Minnie Pearl ringing the church bells.”

Darlene Dempsey – “Oh yes, that bell at the Episcopal church got rung! And Ricky might remember the people who got on the roof of the post office and scared people as they passed by on the street.”

Rick Montgomery – “Lol! The really fun Halloween Nights!”

Karen Montgomery – “Dave Carol handing out soap for gift shop windows. He said it’s the only time of year his windows got cleaned.”

Kristen Busby – “We did the haunted house at Sharp’s.”

Darlene Dempsey – “And we did a Halloween haunted house at the rec center one year, didn’t we? Seem to remember us all working on turning one of the rooms into a haunted maze one year.”

Kristen Busby – “I remember one at the rec center.”

Darlene Dempsey – “I think your group were the kids us “older” ones made the haunted house for.”

Kristen Busby – “I think so. I remember sticking our hands into bowls of really gross feeling stuff.”

Frank and Carol Kreis – “In 1962 I was there for the school/community fall carnival. My mother had made all of our costumes. Mine was a jailbird costume and she had made a ball and chain which went around my ankle. 

   As I did the cake walk, I was knocking down the signs and managed to win a cake.”

Elizabeth Hanley – “I remember that someone at the end of the island dressed as a vampire and would lay in a coffin every year and we would go as kids.”

Leslie Coleman – “That was Jake Vanpetten.”

Judy McKee-Joy – “That was cool. Sara Tucker loved Halloween antics.”

Darlene Dempsey – “We were too young to get into the costume parties at Miller’s, but I remember seeing them entering in costume when we were hanging out in the parking lot. Some pretty inventive ones.”

Vee Kay – “The porta potty always made it to the center of downtown and the windows were soaped. The next day kids went to clean it all up. Kids had respect back then.”

Jackie Silcox Fogarty – “The porta potty was placed there and the benches from the depot placed around it. We would soap the windows at Fugate’s and Jerry would be on the inside of the store taking pictures of us. That’s why we went to clean them the next day. One year a bunch of kids did move a porta potty from a construction site to the middle of town. That would have been in the 1970s but I’m not giving names.

Dumplin Wheeler – “It was an outhouse not a porta potty, but how would I know? I was a good boy and didn’t do bad things like that.”

Judy McKee-Joy – “LOL!”

Jackie Bylaska – “No but your dad would.”

Jackie Silcox Fogarty – “The island was the best place ever to grow up back then.”