Some creepy characters get into the spirit at the Belleair Halloween party.
BELLEAIR – “Incredible” was the first word that came to Sara Borger’s mind when she was asked what she thought of the annual Halloween Party and Haunted House in Belleair on Saturday, Oct. 26. Borger, the town’s special events coordinator, couldn’t find enough superlatives to describe the event.
“It was lots of fun and there were tons and tons of people there,” she said. “I think this is our best year ever, it was a lot of hard work, but it is worth it.”
The event took over the Dimmitt Community Center. The gym was used for the party where long lines of people waited to get a drink and pizza and hot dogs. Outside along the pathways between the Rec center and City Hall were candy stops where the children could get their goodies handed out by various community groups. And the game room and clubroom inside were transformed into the haunted house.
Every year the haunted house is the pride of the park and rec staff, which spends a full week putting it together.
“We store all our stuff in a portable storage unit which is delivered to us a week in advance,” said Borger. “We unload it, fill it up again with whatever is in the game room and club room and then begin to assemble the haunted house.”
Borger said the staff and a number of volunteers got to work and put the house together then, 50 volunteer teenagers played the part of the ghosts and goblins inside the haunted house. Their only job was to scare the daylights out of whoever walked through.
“The teenagers, most of them from Belleair, did an outstanding job,” she said. “By the end of the event none of them had a voice left because of all the screaming and scaring they had to do. They also had a really good time.”
Out in the gym they were having a good time too. Children of all ages, all in costume, were laughing and playing and performing. Ilaria Delbasso, 3, and Emma Cerrato, 4, decided on their own to get up on the stage and dance. At first they attracted a crowd who watched then other children joined them and before long there was a virtual chorus line performing.
“I love this,” said Emma’s mother Jill. “We have been coming here since she was 1 year old and we’re having a blast. There are always changes and things are always improved for the best.”
Ilaria’s mom Louise said this was their first time at the event.
“This is great, it is really amazing,” she said. “I’m impressed, really impressed. They have made such an effort here, it is our first time but we’ll really come again.”
Another first time attendee was Jon Sutherby of Largo. He and his son Jacobi, 1, were awed at what they saw.
“He’s taking it all in, there is a lot to see,” said Sutherby. “This is pretty cool, it is quite an event.”
Also taking it all in was Belleair Mayor Gary Katica, who says he never tires of watching people have fun.
“I love it every year to see 500 happy kids in costume,” he said. “Thank God for the Dimmitt Community Center this makes it possible for us to have events such as this.”
The sense of community was what the organizers say the event is all about and those who attended agreed. Rachel Handman of St. Petersburg, invited to the party by a Belleair friend, was another first time attendee.
“I think it is wonderful, it is great for the community,” she said. “People get together for fun, both adults and kids. We will definitely be back.”
In addition to the haunted house and the party there also was a trolley ride around the community. All over Belleair there were ghosts and pumpkins and Halloween decorations. The trolley took a ride past all of it. That was conducted by retired Rec director John Yevich who was dressed in a Ghostbusters costume.
“That’s to make sure none of the scary creatures get at any of our kids,” he said.