PANAMA CITY BEACH — It isn’t safe to be a pumpkin at this time of year.
Around our house, at least, they end the month gouged, gutted and stuffed with candles, their innards scraped and separated for pies or baked seeds. The husks slowly dissolve on the front porch in a cloud of tiny flies, their ends speeded up by lighting candles and cooking them from inside-out.
It isn’t pretty.
According to my Internet research, the Jack O’Lantern was named for the strange lights seen flickering over peat bogs in the British isles. Its job was three-fold on the pagan festival of Samhain: to light the way for travelers, to represent the spirits and fairies abroad in the night, and to keep evil spirits out of your home. Jack immigrated to the American colonies with the early settlers, who began to carve big American pumpkins rather than the turnips they had used back home.
The Smashing Pumpkins came much later.
The carved gourd-like squash on our front porch this year is less a Jack O’Lantern and more a Harry O’Lantern, as carved by my daughter and her boyfriend. He’s a happy pumpkin with a lightning bolt glowing over one eye. I hope he keeps the witches and wizards at bay, so I can hoard the candy we have yet to buy.
Somehow, I think the trick is on me.
All Treats, No Tricks
For a special treat, come out and see us (the folks behind PanamaCity.com) at Schooners’ annual Halloween Bash Friday night. We’ll have a table set up out front, with a pumpkin-load of free goodies, and we’ll be taking photos of those who arrive in costume. We’ll be there from 6-8 p.m.
(Check back at PanamaCity.com later Friday night for a photo slideshow from the event.)
Showing up in costume to Schooners, “the last local beach club,” has become something of a Halloween tradition over the years. And we saw some good examples of why that is last year, from the headless man to the Elvis appearance to the queen bee with her “honey pot.”
There’s also a financial reason for it: You can win a share of $600 in cash and prizes in the costume contest, which starts at 8 p.m., with awards presented at midnight. Schooners is located at 5121 Gulf Drive off Thomas Drive in Panama City Beach. For details on the party, visit Schooners.com.
Trick or Treat!