Proctor District celebrates Halloween for children

Parents looking for a fun and safe place to take their little ones trick-or-treating this year need look no further than Proctor District where the annual "Proctor Treats" will be happening 4-6 p.m. Oct. 31.

Starting at 3 p.m., streets will be closed in the heart of the neighborhood's business district with much of the action focusing at North 26th and Proctor streets for all the pint-sized ghosts and goblins to gather treats at the many participating businesses.

A lot of them turn out for this event, too. Nancy Fredericks, owner of Chalet Bowl and the 26th Street Cafe, said the children number in the thousands. She noted that safety is a top priority. "We will have the brave assistance of the police and the Stadium High School Junior ROTC," she said.

There is even something for the parents and other adults taking part in the festivities, a chili feed at Mason United Methodist Church (2710 N. Madison St.) from 5-7 p.m., with all donations going to UNICEF. And at the Wheelock Library (3722 N. 26th St.) the Fireside Story League  will tell gently spooky stories and entertain crowds from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Dennis Robinson, a longshoreman with International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23, said he is just about all set to spend the evening entertaining children in his authentic pirate outfit as he has done for the past six years. With Oct. 31 being his birthday, every year he celebrates the day by dressing up as Captain Big Bones, complete with a talking parrot on his shoulder named Rummy and a big rum barrel full of treasures beside him. This year he turns 62 years old, and he just welcomed his 16th grandchild into the world.

"I just enjoy doing it," he said, adding that he hopes he is inundated with costumed lads and lassies again this year. "I want them to clean me out of everything," he said. Last year he handed out somewhere around 1,500 strings of Mardi Gras beads he orders from New Orleans. "When I'm there I can hardly see because I'm bent over trying to grab beads and give them out as fast as I can."

A knowledgeable historian on all things pirate from years of study, Robinson has his act down pat all the way to his salty voice and a skull pinned to his cocked hat with a flashing red eye that seems to say, "Dead men tell no tales!" He has lots of stories to tell too, about Long John Silver, Captain Morgan and even Black Beard. It is all in good fun, and the children are simply captivated, he said.

"I do it for the kids. Kids are my priority."

Captain Big Bones participates in many local events like the Daffodil Parade and Tall Ships, and around the state as well, like at Rusty Scupper's Pirate Daze in Westport, Wash.

His gear is as authentic as it gets. He carries four pistols from the 1700s and on his back is a 19-inch long Boarding Blunderbuss from the 17th century. "Arrr, she kicks like a mule," he says in his best pirate's snarl. His pet rats Winkles, Widget, Whiskers and Wisenheimer live in his various pockets and in his boots.

With his wife Diana cheering him on every step of the way, Robinson is dedicated to continue bringing out his alter ego any chance he gets.

Quoting Captain Big Bones himself, "He has many sayings to be told and stories of old, for they that have a ear to hear his quotes. So be it."

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