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Halloween happenings

How do you like to spend your Halloween?

Terrified as you turn a dark corner in a haunted house? Trick-or-Treating with your family? Enjoying a not-so-scary time with friends?

Or just forgoing the holiday altogether for some fall fun?

We’ve compiled this list of Halloween events going on this weekend. Hopefully, you’ll find something that you’ll relish.

Have a hauntingly good time!

Fall Fanatics

Even if Halloween isn’t your favorite holiday, enjoy the season with these events:

Holland Farm Tours and Pumpkin Patch
What: A pumpkin patch that includes other activities like a hayride, corn maze and playground fun.
When: Oct. 30 through Nov. 1, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 2, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Holland Farm, 2055 Homer Holland Road in Milton
Cost: $10 wristband per person for pumpkin patch (includes 1 pumpkin), hayride, and all other activities. $6 for single pumpkin. Maze $6 per person. Kids 2 and under are free to activities.
More info: Visit

Sweet Season Farms
What: A farm that hosts a number of “fall” activities.
When: Nov. 1, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Nov. 2, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: 2260 Horn Road in Milton.
Cost: $10 per person – includes unlimited corn maze, hayride, children’s playground, corn popper, sunflower speedway, hop-a-long rodeo, rat racers, kids country carousel, cow train, farm games, sunflower paths, barnyard ball, picnic area, hay bale maze, animal barn and more. Also includes one turn at corn cannon. $8 per person – includes unlimited corn maze, hayride and children’s playground, farm games and picnic area.
More info: Visit

Kid Friendly
Celebrate the holiday with your kiddos at these kid friendly events full of fun for the whole family.

Fall Festival
What: Trunk-or-treating, food and other special activities include a bouncy castle, pony rides and a hayride. Attendees are encouraged to wear kid-friendly Halloween costumes and attire. No scary costumes.
When: Oct. 31, 5-7 p.m.
Where: FWB First United Methodist Church at 103 First St. S.E. in Fort Walton Beach.
Cost: Free.
More info: Visit or call 850-243-9292. 

GulfScarium’s Splash-or-Treat Spooktacular
What: Kids can trick-or-treat in the park, participate in Halloween activities, and enjoy special dolphin and sea lion shows in the evening.
When: Oct. 31, 4-6 p.m.
Where: Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, 1010 Miracle Strip Parkway S.E. in Fort Walton Beach.
Cost: Kids 12 and under are $5, adults are free.
More info: Visit

Halloween on the BOOlevard of Fun
What: Children can trick-or-treat in the Town Center of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin and visit merchants. There will also be a live story-telling performance by the Emerald Coast Theatre Company at 5:30 p.m. in Grand Park.
When: Oct. 31, 4-7 p.m.
Where: Town Center of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, 600 Grand Boulevard, Miramar Beach.
Cost: Free.
More info: Call 850-837-3099 or visit

Halloween on the Hill
What: A community event that has a bounce house, carnival games, a tidal wave slide, candy and more.
When: Oct. 31, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Niceville Assembly, 108 Highway 85 N. in Niceville.
Cost: Free admission.
More info:

Harry Potter Halloween Party
What: A Harry Potter themed Halloween party that includes a sorting hat ceremony, wizard's chess, quidditch, and wizard themed treats.
When: Oct. 30 at 3 p.m.
Where: Valparaiso Community Library, 459 Valparaiso Parkway in Valparaiso.
Cost: Free.
More info: Visit or email Nichole Clark at

A Peanuts Halloween
What: Bass Pro Shops will host classic Peanuts characters, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Sally and Lucy for Halloween activities like crafts, a costume parade, trick-or-treating and more.
When: Oct. 31, 4-8 p.m.
Where: 4301 Legendary Drive in Destin.
Cost: Free.
More info: Visit

Santa Rosa Library activities
What: Visit the libraries in Gulf Breeze, Jay, Milton Navarre and Pace in costume for a story and activities for preschool-5th grade. Na-varre will also show a Halloween movie.
When: Oct. 31, 3:30-5 p.m.
Cost: Free
More info: 981-7323.

Spootacular Safety Night
What: Children can test out their costumes, play games, get a jump start on Halloween treats and learn valuable Halloween safety tips from the Santa Rosa County Sherriff’s Office, McGruff the Crime Dog, Avalon Fire Rescue District, Sparky the Fire Dog, Lifeguard Ambu-lance and Santa Rosa County Emergency Communications’ Red E. Fox.
When: Oct. 30, 3-6:30 p.m.
Where: Santa Rosa County Emergency Management facility located at 4499 Pine Forest Road in Milton.
Cost: Free.

Trick-or-Treat at Baytowne
What: Trick-or-treat through the Village streets. There will be a DJ and fireworks as well.
When: Oct. 31, 6-8 p.m.
Where: Village of Baytowne Wharf, 9300 Emerald Coast Parkway in Sandestin.
Cost: Free.
More info: Visit

Trick or Treat at the Meridian at Westwood
What: Trick-or-treat in the atrium.
When: Oct. 31, 6:15-7:30 p.m.
Where: Westwood is at 1001 Mar Walt Drive across from FWBMC in Fort Walton Beach
Cost: Free

Trick-or-Treat at Gulf Place
What: Trick-or-treat with the merchants of Gulf Place handing out candy to children in costume.
When: Oct. 31, 4-5:30 p.m.
Where: Gulf Place on CR 30A in Santa Rosa Beach
Cost: Free

These events still let you enjoy Halloween, but without any scary elements.

Flashlight Maze
What: Explore a 7-acre corn maze by flashlight. Bring your own flashlight.
When: Oct. 30-31, and Nov.1, 6 p.m. to midnight.
Where: 5899 Buckward Road in Baker.
Cost: $8 per person.
More info: Visit

Halloween Crypt Crawl
What: A pub crawl involving select bars and restaurants in Downtown Fort Walton Beach.
When: Oct. 31, 6-10 p.m.
Where: The stops include Fokker's Pub, The Block, Coasters, Salty Duck, Props Brewery, The Green Door and Luxe Sports Grill.
Cost: There is no admission fee.
More info: Visit for more on the rules.

Rocky Horror Picture Show
What: A screening of the classic movie.
When: Oct. 31 at midnight.
Where: Uptown Station in Fort Walton Beach.
Cost: Free. 

Witches of South Walton
What: “Witches” will hop on their bicycles and travel to Butler Elementary School.
When/Where: Register Oct. 30, 5-8 at LaPlaya Bar and Grill (37 Town Center Loop in Santa Rosa Beach). The bikes will leave from Gulf Place corner on Oct. 31 at 7 a.m. Show up early in costume to decorate your bike. The bikers will head back to LaPlaya for brunch after visiting with students.
Cost: Entry for bike ride: $15. Brunch following Witch Ride: $15. Raffle Tickets: $5.
More info:
Hint: Reserve a bike with Yolo Bike in Gulf Place. 

Zombie Fun Run
What: A fun run that will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
When: Nov. 1. Registration and package pickup at 7 a.m. Race begins at 8 a.m.
Where: Walton County Sheriff's Office, 752 Triple G Road in DeFuniak Springs.
Cost: Runners: $35. Zombies: $25. You can register at or
More info: Call 850-892-8186.

Face your fears at these haunted houses, trails and hayrides:

The Dark
What: A haunted house benefitting the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge.
When: Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, opening at 7 p.m.
Where: Destin Commons in the old Hard Rock Cafe space.
Cost: $10 per person. Cash only.

Haunted House and Haunted Hayride
What: A haunted hay ride that takes you to the 3D House of Horrors.
When: Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 7-11 p.m.
Where: Akers of Strawberries, 1074 Melton Road in Baker.
Cost: $13 per person

Nightmare on the Spanish Trail
What: A trail haunted by living dead Spanish Conquistadors, Native Americans, wolves and skunk apes (huge smelly ape-like creatures).
When: Open Oct. 30, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 7 p.m. until midnight.
Where: 5899 Buckward Road in Baker.
Cost: $10 per person for the haunted trail. $5 per person for the haunted hayride. Saturday only special: $20 for the corn maze, haunted trail, and haunted hay ride.
More info: Visit

Return to the Woods
What: A haunted trail benefiting St. Judes Children's Research Hospital
When: Oct. 30 through Nov.1, 7 p.m. until whenever.
Where: Oak Tree Nature Park on Hollywood Boulevard in Mary Esther.
Cost: $10 per person.
More info: Visit

Whispering Pines Haunted Hayride
What: A hayride that takes you through country filled with zombies, ghosts and werewolves. There will also be a bonfire, outdoor theatre, live music and more.
When: Oct. 31, dark until 10:30 p.m.
Where: Whispering Pines Christmas Tree Farm, 1603 Penton Road in Milton.
Cost: $10 per person. Children 5 and younger are free.
More info: Call 850-304-1559.

Marco’s Pizza tasty addition to local eateries

On a bright, beautiful fall afternoon when many were heading to Niceville for mullet, I was on assignment at Marco’s Pizza, which is in the same complex as the new Publix. And what a tasty assignment it turned out to be.

The Food
Marco’s menu is easy to navigate even for a first-time visitor. It’s organized into five basic categories: Build Your Own Pizza, Specialty Pizzas, Subs, Salads and a section called Extra Fun.

Pizzas come in four sizes ranging from 10 inches to 16 inches. Choose from original classic crust or crispy thin crust. You can top the crust itself with garlic butter, Roma seasoning or Parmesan cheese at no extra charge.

Pizza toppings include a long list of the usual choices. What caught my eye were “Classic Pepperoni” and “Old World Pepperoni.” More on that in a minute.

Specialty pizzas include White Cheezy, Deluxe Uno, Meat Supremo, Chicken Fresco, Hawaiian Chicken and Garden.

Subs are available in 6-inch and 12-inch sizes and with a choice of rustic wheat or Italian white bread. You may also have it oven baked or cold.

Subs offered are the Steak & Cheese Bruno, Ham & Cheese Leonardo, Chicken Club Tuscano, Meatball Fabio, Veggie Fresco, Turkey & Ham Maximo, Turkey Club Bravo, Pizza Melt and Italian Sausage Ultimo.

Marco’s offers salads in regular (serves 1-2 people) and family (serves 3-4) sizes. They also have a catering size. Salads include antipasto, chicken Caesar, Greek, garden and chef.

The Extra Fun items are meatball bake, chicken wings, chicken dippers, cheesy bread and CinnaSquares, which is the only dessert item.

My guest ordered a 6-inch Italiano sub on Italian white bread. Ham, salami, Provolone cheese, banana peppers, tomatoes, red onions and sub dressing filled the sandwich. It came baked although I don’t remember the server asking that question. It also came wrapped even though we ate at the restaurant.

He said it was an excellent version of an Italian sub, but a little messy to eat.

I ordered a regular chef salad with blue cheese dressing. The salad also came in a take-out container with the Marzetti dressing cups separate. It was good with crisp lettuce and slices of ham, turkey, Provolone cheese, tomatoes and onions. The delicately seasoned croutons were fresh, and the menu notes that they are made daily.

We shared a large pizza, dubbed in the Local Delights section of the menu as a Pepperoni Magnifico Pizza. It featured the two pepperonis, Old World and classic, with Marco’s special Italian seasoning and plenty of cheese. We chose the crispy thin crust, and it was magnifico.

I thought we would need a box but, no, we ate the whole thing. And if you’re wondering, Old World Peppperoni is the small, thicker rounds of pepperoni you might remember from your childhood. Classic pepperoni rounds are larger and thinner.

The atmosphere
Marco’s is situated on the east corner of the shopping complex. There are some tables outside with umbrellas, but the sun was still pretty intense that day, and everyone was eating inside. There are three booths and a variety of tables, small and large.

With two of its four walls being mostly windows, Marco’s is bright and inviting.

You order at a counter, and the food is delivered to your table. Or, if you’re placing a take-out order, they call your name.

Marco’s was busy at midday with several tables of diners in addition to a steady flow of take-out customers.

The service
The server who took our order was friendly and helpful. She also brought our food to the table.

We figured out that we needed to help ourselves to the paper plates and utensils set up at the buffet. Drinks are also self-serve Pepsi products and Southern Gold Brewed Tea, sweet and unsweet.

Empty containers and trash were cleared from our table as we finished items.

A final taste
Our lunch at Marco’s was pleasant and delicious. I can see why they were busy even with mullet in plentiful supply up the road a piece.

Quick Bites

Location: 1554 John Sims Parkway Suite C3 (at Rocky Bayou Drive) Niceville

Telephone: 279-4800

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Reservations: No

Handicap accessibility: Good

Children’s menu: No

Price range

Build Your Own Pizza: $7.99-$11.99
Additional toppings: $1.25-$2

Specialty Pizzas:  $10.99-$19.99

Subs: $4.99, 6-inch and $7.99, 12-inch

Salads: $5.99, regular; $8.99, family; $24.99, catering

Extra Fun: $3.99-$9.99

Buffet: Offered daily 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $5.99

Cultural grant recommendations take next step toward funding

Because Showcase overflowed with events last week, a column I’d written about my trip to Fort Lauderdale was held.

It might eventually make it to print, but there is bigger related news to share this week.

The Division of Cultural Affairs announced Monday that Secretary of State Ken Detzner has approved the 2015-16 recommenda-tions sent to him by the Florida Council on Art and Culture.

The recommendations are ranked lists of grant application requests eligible for funding in four categories: cultural endowments, cultural facilities (new and renovations), specific cultural projects and cultural and museum general support.

The requests total $49,276,986, which is about $6.2 million more than was appropriated and approved by the Legislature and the governor earlier this year for 2014-15.

The recommendations were finalized by the Council at meetings in Fort Lauderdale and will be considered by the Legislature during the next budget process.

I’m happy to report several Northwest Florida projects are among them although, as pointed out in a previous column, none is for cultural facilities. There is also none for cultural endowments.

By county, they are: Bay, two general program support; Escambia, nine general program support; Okaloosa, two specific pro-jects (Okaloosa Arts Alliance, Heritage Museum Association) and one general support (Northwest Florida Ballet); Walton, one general support (Sinfonia Gulf Coast).

There was none for Santa Rosa County.

That’s 15 total for all of Northwest Florida.

To give you a quick comparison, Broward County, which is where Fort Lauderdale is located, has 30 requests and Leon County, where Tallahassee is, has 19. Miami-Dade has the most with 99.

All of this information is public record and is available online at:
The Florida Cultural Alliance provides additional information about the requests including several interesting analyses. Find them at

To those groups who have requests among the recommendations, now is not the time to rest on your progress so far. In fact, the real work begins.

What got the appropriations passed this year was advocacy, pure and simple. Many voices teamed up to make sure legislators knew how important arts and culture are to their communities.

The Legislature and governor heard and responded accordingly.

It’s up to you to make sure they get the message again.

As a member of the Council, I can tell you firsthand the difference it makes to have representatives of a project stand up and promote it.

When Council members receive satisfying answers to questions they have about a project, they can change their scores.

In more than one case, it gave an application the point boost needed to push it onto the recommended-for-funding list.

Of particular note, were the many business people who took time out from their work to appear before the Council and speak in support of various arts and cultural projects.

We heard story after story about how a cultural facility revitalized a whole town or a specific part of a large city.

Right now taxpayer dollars from Northwest Florida are going mostly to fund wonderful projects elsewhere in the state.

It would be fantastic to see more of that money benefit the many worthy arts and culture organizations here.

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