A Howling Good Time in Immokalee

By Judy Weeks

IMMOKALEE — The Halloween celebration stretched over five days in Immokalee this year. Beginning on Oct. 26, when the Preschoolers visited the reservation offices and Senior Center. It continued through Halloween night, Oct. 31.

CARNIVAL

The Recreation department sponsored a carnival at the baseball field on the evening of Oct. 27 and during the day on Oct. 29. It was not only popular with the kids, but drew a large number of adults, ready to relive their youth.

If you ask James Mora, 4, he will tell you that the best ride in the whole world was the bungee cord trampoline. He may be only 30 inches tall, but he discovered that he can jump eight feet into the air and even turn a somersault when he’s hooked up to the tower. He enjoyed every ride in the park, but returned at least six times to the bungee jumps.

The children liked the mechanical bull, but the adults were drawn to it like a magnet. Daring each other, they would begin laughing so hard that it would take two people to help them onto the creature. It began slow and sneaky, but before long five or six seconds the riders catapulted to the mat as their friends roared hilariously.

Manning a charcoal grill, Recreation’s Raymond Mora, Susan Davis and Dennis Gonzalez worked all night turning out some of the best cheeseburgers in the world. If anyone doubted their skills, a quick look at the long line of happy faces would change their minds.

Merry-go-rounds, flying swings, haunted houses, a Ferris wheel and so much more helped to bring hours of pleasure to this wholesome family event. Sticky little people covered in cotton candy and snow cones abounded and at the end of the evening. Everyone took home a stuffed animal and a big smile.

ANNUAL HALLOWEEN PARTY

Community members worked for days attempting to find the perfect costume for the annual Halloween party. The ingenuity and thought that went into the selection was apparent as soon as everyone arrived at the event.

The gym was beautifully converted into a horror night ballroom. The traditional black and orange color scheme was enhanced by strobe lights, a mass of balloons, mummies, skulls and spider webs. A beautiful fairy converted into a photographer ready to document the evening.

Following the disc jockey’s lead, the party goers competed in Hula hoop, limbo, musical chairs and karaoke contests. The bride of Frankenstein stole the show, when she worked her hips successfully for 10 straight minutes without dropping or stopping.

A fabulous buffet provided the diners with a vast assortment of main courses, salads and desserts. A soda jerk, ghost with cotton candy and pirate making popcorn offered refreshments throughout the evening.

The youngsters, ages zero through three, participated in a costume contest that brought smiles of delight. More than 30 babies and toddlers appeared as monkeys, chickens, kittens, pumpkins, Raggedy Ann, a butterfly and so many other cute little characters. This was just the beginning of a very hard job for the judges that lasted throughout the evening.

SPD Officer Tom Faherty said, “I would love to give a 1st place to everyone here tonight. This is the best Halloween party I’ve experienced in all my years in Immokalee. The contestants have used a lot of imagination and there is very little duplication. Where should we begin?”

Pinocchio, complete with puppet strings, a dashing pirate, spotted dinosaur, terrifying ghost, blood dripping Dracula and gorgeous Tinker Belle were just a few of the entries in the youth categories. With more than 100 entries, it was a monstrous task for the judges.

In the adult category, little baby Vince Motlow, complete with diaper, rattle, bottle and pacifier, rocked the room with laughter. Nina Frias and Mittie Cypress were an awesome Shreck and Fiona from the movie “Shreck” as they danced around the ballroom. Mr. Money Bags, AKA Delores Jumper, and a fearsome ghoul, AKA Nancy Motlow, brought howls from the crowd when they competed in a jitter bug contest. Mark Arriaga’s gladiator put on an awesome performance in the dance review.

No Halloween would be complete without a pumpkin carving contest and the entries were not only numerous, but very original. Ranging from old traditional scary faces to scenes of wolves and eagles, the artists put a lot of hard work went into these projects. Preschool held a 50/50 raffle and karaoke performances completed the evening.

SENIORS HOLD HALLOWEEN BASH

The department of Elder Affairs went all out this year with their Halloween festivities. Closing off one of the hallways, the seniors worked for a week with the help of their chaperones creating a haunted house to delight their visitors and enhanced the trick or treat experience for the Preschoolers. The seniors had as much fun putting their project together as they did watching the happy little ghosts and goblins who ventured into their realm.

On Halloween, Oct. 31, they began their annual party at 10 a.m. with bingo. The Recreation department kept up a steady pace with a fun filled commentary as the group played five different rounds of this very popular game.

Winners in each category were as follows: Regular Bingo: Nancy Motlow, Double Bingo: Linda Frank, Two Stamps: Tony Sanchez, Letter H: Rachel Billie and Full Card with Four Wild Numbers: Nancy Motlow.

Chairman Mitchell Cypress joined the group for a festive luncheon which included the traditional favorites, sofkee and pumpkin bread. Everyone joined into a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to Linda Frank, the newest member of the group, as she blew out the candles on the Halloween cake. Trick or treat bags filled with fresh fruit were distributed throughout the room.

Nutritionist Charlotte Porcaro, Community Health Representative Anna Puente and SPD Officers Tom Faherty and Allen Colon tackled the difficult job of judging the seniors’ costume contest. The first through fifth place the winners were as follows: Red Haired Ghoul: Mary Sanchez, Chucky: Delores Jumper, Beautiful Witch: Rachel Billie, Green Faced Witch: Nancy Motlow and Nun: Linda Frank.

SPINE CHILLING HAUNTED CHICKEE

Members of Recreation, Fitness, Utilities, Maintenance and Grounds and Youth & Livestock Ranch departments joined community volunteers who worked all week long. Together they transformed the old youth center, which is slated for destruction, into the most awesome haunted house ever seen in Immokalee.

A last minute glitch threw the organizers into a trauma when Lee County Electrical Cooperative turned off the power ahead of schedule, just four hours before the event was to get underway. It was inspiring to see the way that everyone pulled together to remedy the problem by volunteering heavy duty generators and more. However, the Lee County Electrical Cooperative came to the rescue by rushing back to reinstall the meter just in time for the grand opening.

This haunted house is proof that there is no end to what can be accomplished when people put their heads together. The enthusiasm and creativity that went into this popular undertaking were extraordinary.

The sign read “Enter If You Dare” and the screams heard a block away were tribute to the horrors that lay within the house. Thrill seekers made trip after trip into the bowels of the unknown, exiting with howls of delight. It was by no means a place for the faint hearted, as the visitors encountered one horror after another, when it was least expected.

The Immokalee community wants to thank all of its sponsors for a wonderful, fun-filled, safe and happy Halloween.