’Hood full of treats
Several hundred children and their parents streamed into the small collection of cul-de-sacs off Cut-Off Road on the afternoon and evening of Sunday, Oct. 31, according to Port Aransas police, who said the crowd produced no problems.
Children came from all over Port Aransas to walk door-to-door around the six-street neighborhood, but they weren’t the only costumed kids around. Word about Channel Vista’s spooky delights has gotten around the Coastal Bend.
Children from communities including North Padre Island, Aransas Pass and Rockport descended on Channel Vista Sunday. A few years ago, an out-of-town church bus pulled up to the neighborhood, and kids poured out of the vehicle, residents said.
Channel Vista’s transformation into one of the region’s prime trick-or-treating spots is a story of neighborhood layout, landscape and lots of friendly neighbors who simply enjoy entertaining kids and adults alike.
The neighborhood’s layout works in its favor because it’s compact, and police can easily control traffic flow simply by parking a cruiser at one end of Channel Vista Drive. Police did just that from about 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, easily limiting vehicle traffic to residents and their guests and making the whole area safer for the many pedestrians.
While most of the streets don’t have sidewalks, the neighborhood’s landscape is good for trick-ortreaters because the front yards are wide-open, with few fences cutting people off as they walk from home to home. And a sidewalk– not a feature found in every Port Aransas neighborhood, by a long shot – runs the full length of Channel Vista Drive.
Residents say the Channel Vista phenomenon has existed for only about 10 years. It started with a few residents who liked to extravagantly decorate their homes for Halloween and throw big parties.
If the home of Alex and Marie Porter wasn’t the first in the neighborhood to host a big Halloween party, it at least was one of the first. That was about 10 years ago, as Alex recalls it.
“We just decorated up the house real big and just had a big party, told everyone to come,” Alex said. “It just went on from there. Everyone else started having them, and it turned into a big, old block party.”
The Porters did it again this year. Their party included a pumpkin carving activity for children, and free pizza.
The Porters have been known to hand out more than just treats. Last year, they also distributed books to trick-or-treaters. They also have given out toys. Marie puts time into her Halloween efforts.
“She goes through all the Dollar stores and just loads up,” Alex said.
Joe and Amy Boulanger also are Channel Vista residents who have been throwing general-invitation Halloween parties for years.
In 2005, Joe grilled about 400 burgers and 300 hotdogs on Halloween night, and all of them were eaten, he said. This year, he cooked a bunch of brisket.
Audacious Halloween decorations also are trademarks of the Channel Vista experience.
“They have a bunch of technological stuff,” said 8-year-old trick-or-treater Pablito Snow. “Like this green head that looked like it was sitting on a table, and someone was sitting on a balcony over it, and they were making it talk.”
Eleven-year-old Jonathan Tristan said he likes the scary scenery, too.
“There was one house where a plastic bat would drop down on a string, right in front of your face,” Jonathan said.
Mike Jones, who has done some acting on the stage at Port Aransas Community Theater, has put his theater expertise to work in front of his house on Aransas Channel for a number of Halloweens.
This year, he projected old black-and-white horror film clips on his garage door. Friend and fellow PACT actor Ken Yarbrough dropped by, dressed in a spooky outfit and handed out candy to kids. As a manufactured fog drifted around, Jones stood off to one side, holding a microphone and bellowing a running commentary individually tailored for each trick-or-treater who might happen to approach the house. He sprinkled his monologue liberally with booming demonic laughs.
“Some kids had to be coaxed to come up, because they were a little freaked out,” Jones said. “But, in the end, we had a long line of people waiting to come up. We had quite a few spectators.”