pirate ralph

Photo illustration by Capt. Josh Olive

Here’s your costume, Capt. Ralph. You’re welcome.

Halloween is a big event in Punta Gorda’s historic district. Many residents of that old neighborhood go all-out in decorating their yards and homes for the spooky evening each year, and lots of them will hold big house parties at which the guests help hand out treats to the kids. And there are plenty of kids, since hundreds of families visit the area, some traveling from many miles away. Punta Gorda even shuts down some of the streets to vehicle traffic because the crowds are so large.

It is very cool to see so many parents walking the sidewalks with their children and all having a good time. Positive energy abounds.

It’s been a few decades since I had children of trick-or-treating age, but I still enjoy walking the sidewalks among the crowd and checking out the costumes. I might wander around down there this evening. Some of the costumes are cute (especially on the smallest children), some are scary, and some are really creative.

Speaking of costumes, some of the fishermen that I’ve seen on Charlotte Harbor have been wearing garb that could work as Halloween costumes. I understand the importance of sun protection, and I probably will eventually pay the price for my years of being lazy about it.

But when I see a guy wearing a floppy- brimmed hat over a face-concealing buff that’s tucked up under the hat, wrap-around sunglasses, long sleeves, long pants and fishing gloves so that not one bit of skin shows anywhere, it strikes me as a little on the creepy side. Kind of like that old movie “The Invisible Man,” where the title character wraps himself all up from head to toe to disguise the fact that you can’t see him at all.

What about other fishing-inspired Halloween costumes that could serve for a walk among the crowd tonight? You see lots of superhero costumes, but I don’t know if that works in the fishing world. The late greats Vic Dunaway and Lefty Kreh were both fishing heroes of mine, but would anybody recognize those guys even if I could figure out how to make costumes to represent them? I doubt anybody would recognize my attempt at Lefty-like fly casting instruction with a stick and a length of yarn.

Maybe a different approach would be needed. How about trying for something scary? Perhaps a game warden, complete with a fish-measuring device and a big, empty ticket pad. That would be scary to some folks, but not to those of us who appreciate the job they do in policing our fisheries.

Almost all of us are scared of federal fishery managers, so that might be worth trying. But it would be pretty tough to put together a costume that depicts a frightening NOAA biologist aiming a laser pointer at a PowerPoint slide on the mind-numbing virtual population analysis for red grouper.

There are quite a few fish that could inspire Halloween costumes. A Google search for “Halloween fish” turns up all sorts of scary-sounding creatures: Goblin sharks, witch flounder, devil fish, Dracula fish, batfish and dozens more. Would I get in trouble if I dressed up as a goblin shark and started chasing after kids who were dressed as the Little Mermaid? There would probably be nearby parents who would take exception to my fun.

Hey, what if I dressed as a Boca Grande Pass bull shark and carried around a mannequin depicting a half-eaten football player dressed in blue and gold? You know, a Charlotte Tarpon? Never mind. There is probably some politically correct reason for that costume being a bad idea too.

Red tide is scary stuff, but how would a costume work for red tide? Maybe I could dress up in a reddish-colored body suit and carry a bunch of dead fish. That costume would have the fringe benefit of making it easy to navigate the crowded downtown sidewalks this evening, especially if those dead fish were really ripe. But come to think of it, the sight of me in a body suit would probably be more scary than an algae bloom.

Happy Halloween, and let’s go fishing!

Capt. Ralph Allen runs the King Fisher Fleet of sightseeing and fishing charter boats located at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda. He is an award-winning outdoor writer and photographer, and is a past president of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. Contact him at 941-639-2628 or Captain@KingFisherFleet.com.

Capt. Ralph Allen runs the King Fisher Fleet of sightseeing and fishing charter boats located at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda. He is an award-winning outdoor writer and photographer, and is a past president of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. Contact him at 941-639-2628 or Captain@KingFisherFleet.com.

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