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Best Halloween Ever | Pontoon-Depot

Best Halloween Ever | Pontoon-Depot

By: HouseBoatMagazine

Just as some northern houseboat owners are packing it in for the season, the folks at Tradewinds Marina, on Lake Thurmond, are gearing up for fall and winter. Lake Thurmond is a deep, beautiful, 111-square-mile-lake, located on the border of Georgia and South Carolina, near Augusta. With 1,200 miles of shoreline, surrounded by the Sumter National Forest and limited to 5 percent development, it is a magnet for bass fishermen and pleasure boaters.

Granted, it is hot in the Georgia summer, but its moderate weather the rest of the time, makes this lake a year-round playground for diehard boat owners. Tradewinds Marina is home to an interesting mix of houseboat owners who definitely consider themselves family, and tend to spend all their weekends and especially holidays, together.

Sunset Dock has formed its own "Camp Rainbow," when on any given afternoon, dozens will be cooling off in the lake right off the sea wall or toasting the magical sunsets which give the dock its name.

Party Central

When you want to find a poker game on Saturday night, there is no doubt you'll find a game (or two). Cigar smokers just need walk over to "D" dock, where the discussions are infused with the distinct smell of tobacco. Camaraderie abounds and thoughts of home or work seem to disappear. Holidays mean special times at Tradewinds Marina. Memorial Day and Labor Day are celebrated with beach-themed parties, as dozens of boats spend the weekend on one of the sandy shores around the lake. Sunning, swimming, barbecues, bonfires and movies under the stars bring everyone out.

The Best Of All

New Year's Eve is a raucous and fabulous evening, but most people can't quite remember it the next day. As you can tell, holiday celebrations and parties are legendary at this marina, but none is more anticipated than Halloween, when being outrageous is an accepted practice, and creativity is applauded!

Plans for the 2011 Halloween Goblin Gala began in early September, when Mike Parlier suggested that the marina invite Houseboat magazine to its annual celebration of all things horrifying. 

Game Plan

At that point, plans jumped into high gear. Although there was no formal "committee," a small group took charge of making this event memorable. 

Each year, this party seems to get bigger, so the group decided to expand its party location. The plan was to have a "progressive" fright night that would kick off on "D" dock with spooky drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Then move to "C" dock for spookier drinks and Richard and Carla Smith's chili and fixins' dinner. Then cap off the evening on Sunset Dock for dessert, coffee bar, and actual Witches Brew. 

One person from each dock took charge of their respective docks for the evening; Melanie Villamein for the first course "D" dock, Mike Parlier for the "C" dinner dock, and Meredith Ray took on the desserts to be served on Sunset Dock. Each of them was responsible for getting the word out to boat owners in their respective area, coordinate the various menus and music and to encourage boat owners to creatively decorate for the evening.

This group also organized a post Halloween brunch, which would be held at a cabin at the marina. One thing you can be sure of, you will never go hungry with this group.

A Spooky Place

Houseboat decorating began in earnest on the Thursday before the Saturday night party. It is amazing what is stored in boat holds! Out came colored lights, spider webs, skeletons, ghouls, assorted nooses and tombstones.

The docks and the ramps became creepy labyrinths. The houseboats completely transformed into haunted houses, complete with resident ghosts and goblins; eerily lit and emanating sounds of horror and fear. Ghosts flew in the wind, shrieking skeletons dropped to greet you as you boarded the boats, carved pumpkins flickered in the darkness, and each boat offered bowls of scary treats. Everyone seems to add to their collection of decorations, and the atmosphere gets more bizarre according to the regulars.

As the sun went down, the dock party began to get going in full swing. The costumes were amazing, and even in face paint, mummy gauze, witches hats and pirates leggings, everyone managed to be an adorable (if not scary), bunch.

The annual costume contest was won by Steve and Desiree Wolf, unrecognizable in their witch and goblin face makeup. They took home the coveted "Headless Pumpkin" trophy. There was an entire cast of Gilligan's Island, and Amy and Hannah Masiongale were pirates that would have put a spell on Jack Sparrow himself!

Mike and Angela Parlier made a gruesome twosome, and the real coffin, complete with body, on Tommy King's front deck, was a fright to behold. Costumes ranged from NASCAR to Neverland, cowboys to aliens, flower children to Flintstones and an absent Jim Masiongale head on a stick. Decorated tables held all the food and drinks of all types flowed endlessly.

Party participants traveled between docks by foot, or by decorated pontoon boats, which doubled as pirate ship water taxis. Dance music played atop many of the boats, with country songs mixing with Carolina beach "shag" tunes bringing out the dancers. Almost 250 revelers celebrated the spirit of the haunting season through the night and well into the morning.

Don't Forget Food

Seemingly, none the worse for wear, the houseboaters met for the customary holiday brunch the next morning. Again, everyone attending brought a favorite dish. Southern breakfasts tend to be very eclectic, with everything from fried chicken to anything containing bacon. Between the biscuits and gravy, the eggs and the grits and hash brown casseroles, the world seemed to fly by in a carbohydrate laden haze.

Everyone was decked out in their new "I Love Houseboating" t-shirts, which we brought along. The pace had definitely slowed from the night before. The topic at brunch: how could they possibly top this party next year? With this bunch, there is no doubt; they will find a way!

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Halloween Decorations for Your Boat: Dockside Trick-or-Treating

Halloween Decorations for Your Boat: Dockside Trick-or-Treating


This Halloween the docks are filled with decorated boats packed full of tricks and treats for all ages.

Halloween is a time for ghosts, ghouls, goblins, costumes, and of course, trick-or-treating. Trick-or-Treaters have found their way out of the neighborhoods and onto the docks, no longer following their regular candy routes from house to house but now from boat to boat. Marinas and yacht clubs all over the country are hosting annual dockside trick-or-treating events where club members and those living in surrounding communities can bring their little monsters down to the docks in search of Halloween candy and other goodies.

These events are not just a treat for the kids, but the grown-ups also seem to enjoy themselves. Parents of trick-or-treaters will be pleasantly surprised to find a variety of adult-beverages at many of these candy stops—but the fun isn’t limited to just those trick-or-treating. Half the excitement comes beforehand in the boat decorating and preparation. While many marinas host contests—some even for cash prizes—to see who can create the spookiest vessel, many boat owners decorate purely in the true spirit of Halloween. If you’re thinking about dressing up your boat this holiday, check out these tips.


  • Add lights
  • Use a fog machine
  • Carve a jack-o’-lantern
  • Hang pirate flags
  • Play scary music


Like any good haunted house, a haunted boat shouldn’t lack any of the basic elements needed to bring your vessel to life on Halloween night. As we briefly mentioned, some of those items might include lights, a fog machine, jack-o’-lanterns and pumpkins, pirate flags, a stereo speaker playing spooky music, and oh, so much more. For those of you who are looking to ‘go big,’ tack on the addition of an inflatable glowing ghost or pumpkin to the top off your boat—with just a few bungee cords, you’ll have a new haunted hood-ornament that is sure to turn some heads.

{These houseboats provide plenty of room for your imagination to run wild during your decorating process. No matter what size vessel you're dressing, there's always room for a little Halloween spirit. Photo courtesy: Houseboat Magazine.}

Many of the items we’ve mentioned thus far need an electrical source for power, but your choices aren’t limited to just battery-powered décor. You can hang skeletons, spiders, and bats from your t-top or Bimini, and use dark-colored bed sheets to create a black backdrop to hide undecorated sections of your boat. Don’t forget to pick up a pack of stretchable, synthetic fiber spider webs to drape over doors and across seats. If you happen to have a black light, you can find a variety of options for glow-in-the-dark items, including glow-in-the-dark cobweb packs. You might also think about adding a few Styrofoam tombstones to lean on the edge of your swim platform.

One last word of advice regarding décor: do not use candles, matches, or any source of fire or open flames on board your boat.


Once you have your boat all decked out, your final step is to stock up on the goodies. Candy is a necessity, and be sure to choose a variety: chocolate, gummies, sweet, sour—cover all your bases. Fill the coolers of your boat with sodas and waters. Then, bring aboard a few portable coolers for other items. Pack one with tasty spirits and libations for the grown-ups, and fill another one with water and apples for apple bobbing. Don’t forget to bring plenty of paper plates, cups, and napkins (preferably Halloween-themed) and trash bags for clean up.

{Adults and children of all ages have a lot to look forward to at annual Halloween Dock Parties and "BOO'tiful Boats" contests. Photo courtesy: The Marina at Marina Shores, Virginia Beach, VA.}

Whether you’re chasing around your favorite little trick-or-treater across the docks, or pulling together the spookiest Halloween décor to dress up your boat, be sure to share all your Halloween pictures and videos with us on the Facebook page.

  • And for more nautical haunts, check out:
  • Most Haunted Fishing Destinations
  • Boating Superstitions
  • Friday the 13th: Boaters Beware
  • Boat Trader’s Top 10 Nautical Themed Halloween Costume Ideas

For all your accessories and/or vinyl flooring visit Pontoon Depot's shop site.