The Many Moooods of Halloween

By: Melody Worsham
It’s October. The month of ghouls, ghosts, pranks and pumpkins. Cities along the Coast are gearing up for their trick-or-treat street parties for the kids. The casinos are filling up for an autumn of nightlife festivities. Many on the Coast are ready for something a little out of the ordinary, and the Gulf Coast has plenty to offer.
How about a Halloween musical? Throughout the month of October, the Gulfport Little Theatre will present, “Dracula – The Musical?” Just the name intrigues the curious black cat in all of us. The production directed by Barbara Medlock is a light-hearted, yet terrifying, take on the Gothic vampire classic – the eternal drive of Dracula, played by Syd DeFraites, to find new blood while the beautiful Mina, played by Gabrielle Brou, tries to resist his powerful hold on her. Join the madness and suspense of this thriller October 8th through 10th and 15th through 17th. For tickets and details, call the Gulfport Little Theatre at 228-864-7983.
If you are looking for something a little more traditional, Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs is offering a night of story-telling. On October 8th, gather around the campfire with story-tellers Stacy Speas and “Guinea Gumbo” for regional folk tales and Native American stories that will have you on the edge of your picnic blanket. Park Ranger Stacy Speas will be sharing a Choctaw story called, “How the Animals Saved the People.” Stacy said that one of her desires is to help today’s children “reconnect with the oral traditions” of telling stories that are meaningful and present history through the eyes of an ancient people. Before the written language, telling stories was how families passed along traditions and values. Most Native American stories are rich in historical accounting of events and the morals by which they lived. Guinea Gumbo is a professional story-teller that happened to be visiting the park when Stacy was planning the Campfire Tales event. “It was serendipitous,” Stacy said, that she was there at that moment and offered to share some of her stories. Guinea Gumbo (also known as Rachel Motakhaveri in other circles) brings local folklore to life for those gathered at the campfire. She arrives in full costume, with a string of lights wrapped around her “like fireflies,” Stacy said. The Campfire Tales evening is perfect for a family night out, “and suitable for ages 6 to 106,” she said. The storytelling will go from 6pm to 7:30pm. Bring your own blanket to sit on, some marshmallows to roast and something to drink. The campfire will be lit off of Boat Launch Road behind Pavilion 5.
Everyone loves a costume party. So how about a costume party with a cause? Early last year, Missy Mitchell and three of her friends were talking about a friend they had lost recently to cancer. They talked about the financial toll the disease can take on a family. So the four women came up with a wonderful plan to help other local families who are struggling to make ends meet while caring for their loved ones. “Everything seems to be around Mari Gras,” Missy said. “So, my girlfriends and I came up with ‘Costumes For A Cause,’ and have the event at the end of the year. That way, the families have a little extra money right before Christmas,” she said. Each year, Missy and her life-long girlfriends, Julie Bradley, Gina Davis and Tracie Normand throw a Costume Ball to benefit a family in need. “It doesn’t matter what kind of cancer their family member is dealing with,” Stacy said. They just want to be a blessing in honor of the friend they lost.
The women, with the help of plenty of volunteers, decorate the Lyman Community Center on Highway 49 and sell tickets for $15 each. The event is “adults only” and you can bring your own bottle of spirits and purchase set-ups at the event. Wearing a costume is strongly encouraged. Missy and her friends also hold smaller fundraisers throughout the year to help other families in need. This year’s theme is “Ghouls Gone Wild.” The party starts at 7pm on October 29th. For tickets, call Missy at 228-297-6304.
If you are in the mood for a quieter Halloween, perhaps you would enjoy walking among the dead! Several historic cemeteries on the Gulf Coast offer night-time tours for those who want the dead to speak… that is, of course, through a knowledgeable tour guide! Our region is rich in war history, famines, and epidemics. Heroes and scoundrels are interred in close proximity to each other. The headstones and sculptures are exquisite in their form and their messages. Cemetery tours are a great way for you to honor the dead and learn more about your town’s colorful history.
The Biloxi Cemetery Tour offers graveside reenactments and a look into the lives of some of the city’s most fascinating founders. In Bay St. Louis, the Cedar Rest Cemetery offers a candlelit tour complete with live portrayals of citizens of the past guiding you through the graves. Pascagoula’s Kreb Cemetery offers a haunting tour that takes you back to the time when its inhabitants lived above the ground.
As you can see, there are many opportunities to celebrate Halloween in unique and fun ways. And even if you try something different, you can still make time for the Pumpkin Patch Fest at the 1st United Methodist Church in Gautier and take your kids trick-or-treating in downtown Ocean Springs or on the Biloxi Town Green. And surely you can squeeze in a little more fun at the “Tailedaga” Dachshund Races at Barktoberfest in Bay St. Louis. No matter how you choose to spend the month of October, be sure to spend it with the people you love. You may be glad that you’re not all alone in the dark!
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