MARCO ISLAND — Halloween came to Marco Island nine days before the rest of the world, as the city hosted the annual Spooktacular, a free event, on Saturday afternoon. Costumed crowds thronged Mackle Park for a host of activities including magic, pony rides, pumpkin face painting, the candy corn count, bake sale, and of course the Halloween costume contest, with prizes for most creative, funniest, and scariest costume in four age groups.
Parks and Recreation Department’s newly-promoted Recreation Manager Mindy Matusiak, appropriately costumed as Tinkerbelle, flitted around the park keeping the activities humming, her face glowing with glitter and her recent engagement. Magician John Robert mystified both the costumed kids and their parents with his sleight of hand tricks and smooth patter.
Marie Lynn McChesney bagged up endless batches of popcorn, and Tony and Billy from Gatorland Adventure Productions made the rounds with something genuinely scary, a live alligator, who was rendered safe by having his mouth taped shut. Joey Liverami celebrated his 13th birthday, coinciding with the Spooktacular, by bringing boxes of pizza and his buddies from the Marco Island Charter Middle School for a pizza party-within-a-party.
Hundreds of children wandered the area in a dizzying multitude of costumes. Everywhere you looked, knights, princesses, space aliens, Batman, clowns, Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” monsters, pirates, karate kids, witches, ghouls, vampires and corpses strolled and played the games.
Young Sebastian Green, not quite one year old and dressed in an adorable bird costume, took all of these hobgoblins in stride, but became an “angry bird,” threatening to dissolve in tears, when a man costumed as a photographer tried to take his photo, requesting an immediate pickup from his mother Molly, hovering right behind.
Clearly, many of the children, or their costume designers, have a dark side they tapped into and let out with their choice of outfit. Khai Baldwin, 7, announced he was a zombie DJ, looking appropriately spooky, and Lia Ovenkova, 10, came as the angel of darkness, although her mother said it’s all an act.
“At home, she’s sweet, she’s a white angel,” promised Lenka Ovenkova. Jasmine Sokolowski won a prize in the costume contest for a ghoulish gangster look straight out of “Beetlejuice,” and stood next to equally frightening Bianca Sparr, giving doleful stares that could haunt one’s dreams.
Another award-winning “bad girl” was Lenka Okenkova, 9, who took home a skeleton statuette for her Cruella DeVille outfit from “101 Dalmatians.” And big people weren’t necessarily all on the side of the angels, either. Cheryl Poteet and her escort were chilling in their white masks. Renee Maile was a black witch, unless those were widow’s weeds, although her daughter Morgan, 8, was a perfectly charming Dorothy. Parks & Rec’s Lola Dial appeared to have been dead for years, although she claimed to just be having a bad skull day.
“This is a great event. We get the kids dressed up, get the community involved, and forget about politics,” said Matusiak, when she slowed down for a moment. “How many people are here? Eight hundred, nine hundred, a thousand, I don’t know. But everyone’s having a good time.”