Dana Boyer wrote passionately to this newspaper a month ago about her passion to continue the Port St. Joe tradition of Ghosts on the Coast.

Dana Boyer wrote passionately to this newspaper a month ago about her passion to continue the Port St. Joe tradition of Ghosts on the Coast.

With the blessing of the Gulf County Chamber of Commerce, Boyer let that passion fuel her mission.

“She is definitely one of our most passionate community members,” said Chamber executive director Barry Sellers. “Give her task and she is off.”

Boyer’s task was to bring off the annual trick-or-treating downtown event which will begin at 6 p.m. ET Oct. 31, Halloween night, with the festivities kicking off with a costume content at Port St. Joe Commons Park adjacent to City Hall.

Sellers will serve as emcee and Boyer has lined up Ann Jarosz, Barbara Radcliff and Nancy Swider as judges.

“I feel they are above reproach because they aren’t really related to anyone around here,” Boyer said, tongue firmly in cheek. “That is always the joke, the fix is in.

“But also these ladies are just great community volunteers.”

There will be four categories judged for the costume contest – ages 0-3, 4-7 and 8-12 and a fourth category is for the entire family.

After the contest comes the first tweak to the annual event, which has been a Port St. Joe staple for nearly two decades.

Once the costume contest is judged and awards presented, the fire whistle will blow to signal the beginning of trick-or-treating up and down Reid Avenue.

That wrinkle was brought about for two reasons. First, business owners on Reid Avenue found that kids were coming around for the goodies while the contest was going on and the kids seeking the candy seemed older and not always in costume.

Business owners found they were short on candy before those who had dressed for the occasion had a chance to grab some sweets, so the whistle will signal the official start of trick-or-treating.

“This gives the merchants the chance to say they are not ready, to wait for the whistle to blow so all the kids can enjoy the trick-or-treating at once,” Boyer said. “Andy Smith (of Hannon Insurance) came up with that idea and I thought it was a great one.”

The local Boy Scout lodge will be conducting a Haunted House, cost $3, in the former Tiffin Interiors storefront in the 200 block of Reid.

In addition, Family Life Church in the 300 block will have hot dogs, chili and candy.

Kaotic Ink will be offering temporary tattoos and candy, Fairpoint will sponsor a fishing booth and the Junior Service League will hold a candy toss.

CVS Pharmacy is offering a free 5 x7 photograph of the wee ones in their costumes.

In addition, a car show will be held outside of Portside Trading on Reid Avenue.

The second major wrinkle from previous years involves one of the central themes, candy.

In a nod to the economic times and the reality that when Ghosts on the Coast began all the storefronts on Reid Avenue were occupied, the emphasis this year is on community.

Folks are asked to drop off a bag of candy with their favorite downtown merchant to make Ghosts on the Coast a great night for the young ones.

“What we’ve done is ask people to drop off candy with their favorite downtown merchant,” Boyer said. “That is different this year. People don’t realize that some of these businesses pay $200 and $300 for candy to support Ghosts on the Coast.

“This is a community event. This is a great community and they always chip in. We have had a great response. This really is a great community.”