Fun at Wicked Manors Halloween Block Party
Despite a fickle on again off again rain shower, costumed revelers flocked to Wilton Drive on Halloween to participate in the second annual Wicked Manors Block Party.
Platinum Street Festivals, a Wilton Manors-based company that promotes businesses and events in the city, produced the event that drew nearly 20,000 people to the 1.5 mile stretch of Wilton Drive running from Fort Lauderdale High School to the Five Corners section of the city.
Last year's event also faced some uncooperative weather. Lingering effects from Tropical Storm Noel, which passed through the Caribbean, dumped rain on the area and threatened to shut down the festival's first year, but nearly 10,000 partygoers still came out to participate.
"It was an absolute success even with the tropical storm that came through," said Marc Victor, marketing director of Platinum Street Festivals and owner of the Marc Victor Group, a marketing and promotions business. "It's the only gay venue in Broward County on Halloween that is free and open to the public. Everybody talked about it all year so we decided to make it annual."
This year, the organization spent nearly $26,000 to shut down the busy thoroughfare from 7 p.m. until midnight. The theme for the event was, "The Silver Scream," a nod to classic horror films.
Getting down to the strip early was the name of the game, particularly since most available parking was full within the first hour and nearly every nearby business lot or residential street was closed to the public.
But sparse parking didn't deter people from coming out.
One costumed attendee, who on Halloween wanted to be known as "Marsha, Queen of the Black Fairies," ?- dressed appropriately in all-black garb and make-up- said she traveled from Boca Raton and brought along her friends from North Miami and Southwest Broward for some all-night partying.
"We're here to hang out with my brother and it's been a lot of fun," she said. "There's been a lot of originality. It's amazing."
Costumes ranged from the typical vampire, witch, nurse and police officer outfits to the more creative and elaborate, like a group of Teletubbies and a Jewish nun.
Many costumes kept with the theme of this year's presidential election, with a few Sarah Palins and Joe the Plumbers spotted among the crowd and even someone dressed as a voting booth.
In addition to three bars that were set up at various spots along Wilton Drive and the restaurant vendors, there were plenty of festivities to keep everyone entertained.
For kids and adults who couldn't let go of their childhood memories of knocking door to door for candy, there was trick-or-treating earlier in the evening with local merchants handing out goodies and coupons.
There was also music from South Florida DJ Scott Mann and live entertainment with the hostess and Lips drag queen, Miss Misty Eyez, and comedic MC, Tedd Marefka.
Particularly brave and creative types entered a costume contest, where they competed for various prizes. There were various categories, even one for pets, drag queens, celebrity look-a-likes and "best wig."
Casilda Cintron, a massage therapist from Boca Raton, thought about entering as a pretty convincing pirate, complete with bandana and a realistic sword, but she decided against it.
"It's a lot of competition out here tonight, but I just want to have a good time," the Boca Raton resident said.
Maxine Doctofsky, the woman dressed as a Jewish nun, agreed and said her focus was "to relax from a long week at work."
"I just wish it wasn't raining and they had more tents to cover people," she added.
In addition to the party atmosphere, the block party helped introduce South Floridians to the businesses of Wilton Manors, Vincent said.
Last year outside vendors sold food, but this year all culinary fare was from Wilton Manors restaurants and bars, like Shawn and Nick's Courtyard Caf?, Galanga Thai Kitchen and Sushi Bar, Humpy's Pizza and Panini and Wilton Wings.
Vincent said he hopes to make Wicked Manors a big revenue night for businesses, right up there with the annual Stonewall Street Festival held in June.
"Everybody broke records last year," he added. "The festival is a must because it's so valued and it's very important we have the local businesses supporting us so we can bring in the local business back to the area."
Currently, Platinum is focused on bringing in more street festivals to Wilton Manors and hope to "potentially bring over 100,000 people each year and help to promote Wilton Manors as a great location for entertainment, shopping, dining, living and visiting."
The company's next event is the Wilton Wonderland holiday festival on December 5.
John Zieda, manager of Rosie's Bar and Grill, said the event was a lot of fun for him and his staff and he had a "good turnout," but it wasn't the restaurant's biggest event last year.
"Stonewall is big and the most prominent event, but [Wicked Manors] is a good night for everyone on the Drive and it's the same energy," Zieda said. "We're excited anytime we can be part of the fun."
Sponsors included City Link Metro Mix, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Presidente Imported Bill, Georgie's Alibi and Bill's Filling Station. Community sponsors included the City of Wilton Manors and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of South Florida.
Jim Kessinger, manager of Georgie's Alibi, agreed and said "Stonewall Pride is the biggest event for us, but anything that happens on the streets when it's closed benefits everybody and the community.
This was definitely missing from the drive. They should have started this along time ago."
For local residents, it made their Halloween better knowing they could mingle with friends and have a drink without having to leave their neighborhood or spend money.
"It's literally 30 seconds from where we live," said Bill, a Wilton Manors resident who was dressed as a Spartan, along with his partner Ray. "Besides, last year we missed everything because he had to work so I told him this year there were no excuses."