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Blacktip Island To Celebrate Inaugural Conch-o-ween

Conch shell dump. Little San Salvadore.

Empty conch shells will be used for the conch-o-lantern chiseling contest at Saturday’s Conch-o-ween celebration. (photo courtesy of the Dr. Mary Gillham Archive Project)

Blacktip Island will host its inaugural ‘Conch-o-ween’ Saturday at various locations across the island in a combined celebration of both Halloween and the Caribbean island’s heritage.

“We wanted to do something that screamed ‘Blacktip’ and ‘Boo!’” event organizer Jay Valve said. “We also needed the theme to be unambiguous. Last year’s superhero-themed ‘Hero-ween celebration’ got read as ‘heroin celebration,’ and all sorts of folks showed up looking for drugs.

“Conch were, and are, a major element in our island society,” Valve said. “Conch-o-ween guarantees wholesome family fun, and there’s no way the name can be misconstrued. Conch-themed costumes are encouraged, but not required, though they will receive extra weight in the Best Costume contest. And the Lamest Costume contest.”

Organizers say the festivities will have something for everyone.

“There’ll be the costume contests and conch racing and conchy-tonk dancing for the adults,” Goldie Goby said. “But we’ll have things for the kiddos, too, like trick or treating, bobbing for lionfish and a dodge-conch game. We recommend helmets for that one.

“There’ll also be all kinds of conch-related food available,” Goby said. “The booths’ll be selling conch fritters, caramel-dunked conch-on-a-stick and fresh-pressed conch cider. And we’ll use all the empty conch shells for the conch-o-lantern chiseling contest.”

Others highlighted the Heritage House’s transformation into a haunted house.

“Lots of folks say conchs aren’t scary, but we got some surprises lined up,” master of haunts Edwin Chub said. “I can’t talk about ‘em, but Conchie monster’s gonna give some people the bejeebies. After they crawl in through that tunnel lined with wet turtle grass. And when things are over, we’ll have a Samhain, conch-harvest bonfire out on the beach.”

Some in the community were critical of the events.

“Celebrating pagan holidays and making light of devil worship is inappropriate and not what this island should be focused on,” the Reverend Pierre Grunt said. “As ever, we’re turning the church into a Hell House, with separate rooms graphically displaying the horrors of each of the Deadly Sins. I just hope we get some visitors this year.”

Many residents are looking forward to the activities.

“It’s always cool to see what kinds of gnarly costumes people come up with on this little rock,” Alison Diesel said. “Linford Blenny’s still banned after last year’s jerk-o-lantern costume. That one landed him in hoosegow overnight for public exposure and public drunkenness. Personally, though, my favorite part of Halloween is the trick or tequila-ing.”

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