In the late 1940’s, the Pass-a-Grille (PAG) Association had a very active member by the name of Maude Fleming. Maude and her family lived on the north-west corner of 22nd Avenue and Pass-a-Grille Way. She and husband had two children, Zana who now lives in the Inverness area and Frederick,Jr. who is retired in St. Petersburg. Maude was a very active person belonging to the Pass-a-Grille Woman’s Club along with other civic groups. But the island youth were her passion.
She was responsible for getting the baseball fields set up at Washington Park, now Hurley Park, and physically helped build and paint the concession stand. Getting the Cotillion dances for teenagers going at the Woman’s Club was another one of Maude’s many projects.
But one special undertaking she did with greater than usual gusto and enthusiasm was having fun at Halloween. There was always a big costume party put on by the PAG Association, at the Warren Webster Community Center and good prizes were awarded for costumes and games to say nothing of the food she prepared for the island children.
Linked to the party, weeks before the costume event Halloween pictures were painted by the children on the store windows all along 8th Avenue. The kids could hardly wait to rush home from school, get into old clothes and head on down to paint whatever they wanted on those big windows! Sometimes they would form a team and all contribute a portion of the planned scene. Competition was fierce and if one young painter didn’t like what he or she had started, it would quickly get washed off and a new picture would get started. And that was OK with Maude, she just wanted the kids to have fun and let them set the rules (with her guidance, of course!) Residents would gather daily to see the progress which was usually finished a week or so before Halloween.
Most of the stores on the street had an overhang over the sidewalks so rain never touched any paintings. The store owners loved the activity and would have snacks and cokes for the painters as they toiled. As I recall the Pass-a-Grille town Commission usually acted as judges. But somehow Maude would see to it that every painter received something. Of course, once October 31st was over, clean-up time was there and they did a good job too even if it was a sad time seeing all their work washed away.
The photo with this story seem to be all that remain as a reminder of this very special yearly event. There is a display of all available at the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum through this Halloween. The Museum would like to see this event possibly revived. Any local organization that would be interested in co-sponsoring: come and let’s talk about it. It would be a fun thing for the local kids and perhaps bring some activity to 8th Avenue.