Halloween brings mischief to the Florida Keys with eerie events scheduled from Key Largo to Key West.
Among the haunting highlights is the Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest. Divers can earn prizes for subsea slicing during the annual challenge, slated 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, hosted by Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort at mile marker (MM) 104.5 bayside in Key Largo.
Buddy teams can creatively carve hollowed-out pumpkins at depths of 30 feet in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The 2014 pumpkin carving theme is “Your Favorite Fish.”
The fee is $85 per diver for the two-tank, two-location dive including tanks, pumpkins, weights and snorkel equipment. However, divers must bring their own carving tools.
Explorers’ hair will likely stand on end while they weave through the Matecumbe Massacre Maze hosted at Robbie’s Marina, MM 77.5 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30. Islamorada’s family-friendly marina is to stage a free “spook-tacular” show for costumed ghouls age 12 and under.
Attractions include a kids’ corner, candy, fun, food and refreshments. Starting at 7:30 p.m. the excitement amps up for older spirits with a costume contest, food and beverage specials. A live band is to play throughout the night’s events. Visit www.robbies.com or call 305-664-8070.
In the Middle Keys, Crane Point’s Haunted House inhabited by ghosts, ghouls and freaky characters will set a spooky tone for the year’s eeriest holiday. The fright-fest begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, at the 63-acre Crane Point Hammock, located at MM 50.5 bayside in Marathon, and is free to the public. The entrance of the Haunted House is at the center of the property from the right-of-way. Visit www.cranepoint.net or call 305-743-3900.
Days and nights of ghoulish delight are planned for the 13th Annual Haunting of Fort Zachary Taylor, a Civil War–era fort beside Key West’s Atlantic Ocean shore. This year three spooky sections of the enchanted citadel will be the stage for live “shows,” treating visitors to otherworldly celebrations not suitable for mere mortals.
Events will take place Oct. 17-19, 23-24, 26 and 30-31, and attendees are encouraged to don devilish costumes. Tricks and treats for the little ones are planned for Kid’s Day, scheduled Sunday, Oct. 19, from 5-7 p.m.
Ghost-seekers can access Fort Taylor and its surrounding state park from an entrance on Southard Street past Thomas Street. Kid’s Day entry is free with park admission. Admission to the haunting is $13 per adult, $10 for military personnel, $8 for kids and free for children under age 5. Hours are 8-11 p.m. (midnight on Halloween). Learn more at www.hauntedkeywestfort.com.
When you go
Depending on your Keys destination, the drive from Fort Lauderdale ranges from 90 minutes to 5 hours (Key West). Silver Airways offers nonstop flights to Key West from Fort Lauderdale. Florida Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS