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Small Talk: Scaring up a good party

I’m a pushover. The e-mail said I’d be a “celebrity” judge. Who can resist that title?

I said, “Heck, yes,” tossed on my black hooded cape, and headed off to Carlsbad’s Hanover Beach Colony neighborhood Halloween Home Decorating contest.

I was greeted by the most enthusiastic resident and absolute party maven, Tina Lentz. Tina is something of a legend around there. She decided the neighborhood should add a Halloween competition and party to her reputedly over-the-top Fourth of July and Christmas events. This woman knows how to throw a party, with floating witch hats in the pool, a five-foot-tall candelabra, punch with eyeballs and every woman in the neighborhood decked out in a prize-worthy witch’s costume.

I really think anyone who puts in the time and effort to decorate, needs an appreciative audience to “oooh” and “aaaah.” I was delighted to be that audience. I am, however, a lame judge, wanting to give awards to every entry. A lot of people put a lot of work into more than a dozen impressively decorated homes, and we had a rough time narrowing down our choices to just three categories.

A very creepy clown house nailed the scariest. But there was one all done up in a slick pirate theme complete with music, and another with so many spiders, you could feel them crawling down your back.

Another had a fabulous, enormous spider draped over the garage and yet another had a skeleton surfer family having a day at the beach. Tina’s house had enormous jack-o-lanterns and a perfect “Hocus Pocus” style going on.

All I can say is, if you cruise off Ponto Road along Leeward and Whitewater Streets, you will be suitably dazzled. I am definitely doing a drive-by in December, as well.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who hates to miss a good party. Contact her at

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