Ghouls’ night out: Neighborhood throws Halloween block party

Lance Shearer

You could drive around most neighborhoods on Marco on Wednesday evening without being accosted by a band of zombies, ghosts, and spooks – even though it was Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve, the traditional night for costumed candy extortion.

Around Tommie Barfield Elementary, though, not so much. The residential streets surrounding the school have become a mecca for Halloween revelers. Homeowners take their spooky fun seriously, with some putting out dozens of creepy front-yard embellishments, from giant spiders, animatronic skeletal butlers – “the master is just dying to see you” – wispy ghosts, and skulls and bony hands coming up out of the earth in front of inflatable RIP-emblazoned tombstones.

Matthew Sanchez, 5, as Mario. Wednesday evening, in a decades-old tradition, the streets around Tommie Barfield Elementary turned into a trick or treatin' block party.

Families bring out their young “ghouls and boos” for some old-fashioned trick or treating, and many of the adults indulge in a little dress-up themselves. Sanford and Linda Simons came as Gargamel and Smurfette, kind of a dark side pairing. Dan High paraded around with bulging green muscles as the Incredible Hulk.

Ismail and Diana Perez, proprietors of Margarita’s in the Marco Town Center, were one of the couples serving refreshments in their driveway, turning the evening into a neighborhood block party. Gary and Eymy Griska – he was a hippie, she rocked a Snow White outfit – put out a buffet in their garage, and welcomed friends and strangers alike. She works at TBE as a media specialist, and many students, current and former, came by to say hi, including Brodie Holdsworth, now at Charter Middle, and dressed as Wolverine.

Eymy Griska, decked out as Snow White, puts out a buffet in her garage. Wednesday evening, in a decades-old tradition, the streets around Tommie Barfield Elementary turned into a trick or treatin' block party.

“We’ve been here 17 years, and this was going on before we got here,” said Eymy. Collier Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Bill Pschigoda, just down the street, said “this has always been the neighborhood for trick or treating,” going back 30 years or more – “since I was small.”

One of the most impressively (over)-decorated houses belonged to Karie Petit, where the entire yard was turned into the “nightmare before Christmas,” and no tombstone left unturned. She was off trick or treating with her children, though, leaving her mother Bonnie Woodward, one witch among a coven of witches, to hand out candy.

The MIPD had a massive presence, with officers on foot and in their ATV, as well as crossing guards at every intersection – not to keep the trick or treaters from rioting, but making sure everyone stayed safe. Even the Fire-Rescue Dept. got in on the act, bringing their tower truck, and with firefighters including Kurt Peterson and Albert Muñoz wearing some of the evening’s most convincing costumes.