Costume Contest? Pencil Me In

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The last time I celebrated Halloween was probably 54 years ago, shortly after the
Navy and I parted ways.

I had returned home to spend quality time with my family in Chatham, Va. Dad
was an Episcopal priest, otherwise known as a Catholic Lite (same religion, but half the guilt). That year, a Halloween gathering was planned at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the highlight of which would be a costume contest.

Now I’ve always been a bit competitive when it comes to these matters. The best costumes always get the best prize, most praise and lots of candy, right? And that meant my costume had to be clever and original.

My strategy: play the Father card. I’d make a play on our family name by being a “Wright-ing” utensil. As a pencil, I would be the son of a pun.


I spent a whole day working on my costume which featured a dandelion yellow pencil body with an eraser on the bottom. I wore the pointed tip on top, which unfortunately looked a bit similar to a dunce cap, and I even put a No. 2 on the costume to alleviate any doubts about what I was portraying.

On the day of the contest, we gathered in the banquet room of the church for a covered-dish supper and snacks. Then we contestants paraded in a circle
as the onlookers, mostly members of the tobacco farm community, decided how to cast their vote.

As I shuffled along, I couldn’t help but sense that odd gazes and gawks were coming my way. I began to feel like a broken pencil – it all seemed so pointless.

When the votes were tallied, I didn’t even get an honorable mention.

The winner?

My Dad. Ironically dressed up as Satan.

What had gone wrong? How could they not have seen the brilliant metaphor? What did they think I was with my pointy head? A yellow unicorn?
A cowardly dunce?

I have stayed away from costume contests ever since. And really, in the
Tampa Bay area, the only costume parties for grownups are reserved for
debutantes and other members of the local gentry, such as Ye Mystic Krewe
of Gasparilla.

Perhaps I’ll just organize one myself with everyone dressing up as their
favorite color of crayon. I’ll call it Ye Mystic Krewe of Krayola.

Michael Wright lives in a retirement community in Mulberry where almost
everyone dresses up as an old person. If you would like to join Ye Mystic Krewe of
Krayola, contact him at


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