Weekend-long Halloween party puts 'boo' in the Bay

For decades, Put-in-Bay at Halloween has been known as Put-in-Boo, a black and orange celebration that brings out thousands of visitors for one last party before South Bass Island closes its tourist season. This year's fun takes place the weekend of Oct. 21 through 23 in downtown Put-in-Bay.
John Benson
Oct 20, 2011

Want to go?
• WHAT: Halloween Celebration at Put-in-Bay
• WHEN: Oct. 21-23
• WHERE: Put-in-Bay
• COST: Free
• INFO: putinbay.com

For decades, Put-in-Bay at Halloween has been known as Put-in-Boo, a black and orange celebration that brings out thousands of visitors for one last party before South Bass Island closes its tourist season. This year’s fun takes place the weekend of Oct. 21 through 23 in downtown Put-in-Bay.

“Halloween has actually been a pretty big deal for 20 years over here,” said Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Maggie Beckford. “We usually go down in the park and watch people arriving on the island. They’re already dressed up, and there are some pretty funny costumes. If you like to people watch, just plant yourself on a park bench downtown on Delaware Avenue and watch people go back and forth.”

Beckford has personally witnessed Halloween on Put-in-Bay growing from an old Beer Barrel Saloon event into an island-wide affair.

“It started in one venue but what happened is the State of Ohio opened its liquor licenses so the bars could stay open through the end of October,” Beckford said. “Then everybody was able to stay open. So that’s provided more places to go, more activities and so more people came. Now it’s a party weekend. I think for some people, it may be the second biggest holiday with Christmas being first. There is something about people getting to dress up or to be somebody or something else that appeals to them because you know you can get away with all kinds of stuff.”

The fact that Put-in-Bay’s Halloween celebration takes place a week before the actual holiday means tourists from Columbus, Toledo and Cleveland flock to the island.

“They get to double dip, they get to go to two places with the price of only one costume,” Beckford said.
That double dipping is also enjoyed by children, with the Chamber of Commerce’s Halloween kids party taking place at 10 a.m. Oct. 23 at the Crescent Pavilion.

The fun includes Halloween costume contests with four different age groups for kids, as well as a special contest for funniest, scariest and most original costumes.

“The kids get dressed up and march down Delaware Avenue to the Crescent Tavern, where we have a group of judges who are usually local people,” Beckford said. “The Put-in-Bay Recreation Committee sponsors the Halloween party back in the Crescent Pavilion with cookies and activities and a best pumpkin decorating contest for kids. Last year they made their own candy apples. It’s always nicely
decorated. The chamber has trick or treat bags with toys, activity books, crayons and candy, because we know they won’t get enough candy when they trick or treat.”

As far as adults dressing up for Halloween at Put-in-Bay, Beckford said for the most part costumes are in good taste; however, occasionally some folks cross a line. So what is Beckford, who in the past has dressed up as a couch potato and hoagie sandwich, going to wear? 

“It’s between a fairy princess and a pirate queen,” Beckford said. “The fairy princess
costume is the only dress I own. The pirate, well, I have this whole pirate outfit because we do pirate fest. We’ll just see how I feel.”

For more information, visit putinbay.com.