A screen grab from a pumpkin carver’s phone shows the mayhem at Thursday’s charity pumpkin carving contest that severely damaged the Caribbean island’s Heritage House. (photo courtesy of Ginger Bass)
A Thursday afternoon jack-o-lantern carving contest to raise money for a local charity devolved into a brawl that seriously damaged Blacktip Island’s Heritage House community center, organizers said.
“It was supposed to be a low-key event to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity,” Heritage House director Doris Blenny said. “We shipped in all kinds of pumpkins, provided the necessary carving tools, set out snacks and lemonade and were set for some relaxing Halloween fun.
“Problem was the chocolates,” Blenny said. “Somebody put out booze-filled ones inadvertently and none of the carvers said anything. We knew the chocolates were popular, but didn’t realize something was wrong until it was too late.”
Attendees described a chaotic scene.
“It started off with giggling and shooting pumpkin seeds at each other,” carver Val Schrader said. “It escalated pretty quick to chucking pumpkin guts across the room.
“Things got ugly when Lee Helm put a big jack-o-lantern around Gage Hoase’s head,” Schrader said. “Gage took a swing at Lee, missed, and the carved pumpkin fell on Marina DeLow. From there it was an all-out pumpkin fight. There were pumpkins going through windows, knocking holes in drywall and whacking blades off ceiling fans.”
Organizers say the building might have survived if not for a second wave of violence.
“Some carvers came dressed in costume, it being for Halloween and all,” carver Ginger Bass said. “Jerrod Ephesians was dressed as an angel, and he must’ve gotten into the tequila-filled candy, because the next thing we knew he was shouting he was the Archangel Gabriel.
“He was hollering about ‘smiting’ people, and swinging a big push broom like it was a pole ax,” Bass said. “People were scrambling for the doors and diving out windows. Then he hit Dermott Bottoms, Dermott tackled him and that’s when the structural damage occurred. Rafe Marquette had to take them both down with tranq darts.”
Construction experts say the building is not repairable.
“Dermott’s a big guy. And Jerrod’s crazy-strong when he goes into smiting mode,” Stoney MacAdam said. “They broke half the wall studs and a dozen roof beams. A corner of the roof’s missing, too.
“We can strip it down to the foundation and build new for less than the repairs’d cost,” MacAdam said. “It’s a shame to lose the historic building, but it’s also a blessing in disguise. The place was full of termites, and the electric work’s always been dodgy.”
Habitat for Humanity officials say they will host a Christmas charity event far from any structures to raise funds for a new Heritage House.