LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Standing nearly 8 feet tall, Frankenstein's giant green head and scandalous smirk loomed above the crowd. His tiny Bride, dressed in a tea length lace dress, somberly stood beside him. A veil covered her pale face, red-painted lips.
Blane Turpin and his 9-year-old granddaughter Brianna Neas drew quite a crowd -- and they didn't intend to. They stood near the middle of Main Street as parents pulled out their iPhones to snap photo of their kids with the devilish duo.
Turpin, whose feet were strapped to black bricks, dresses up with his granddaughter each year.
"We love doing it," Neas said underneath her veil. "Last year he was a big, inflatable guy."
This year's Boo Fest, Lakewood Ranch's not-so-scary Halloween event, had much to marvel, including an opening costume parade led by dancers from Jump Dance Company and ReFlex Arts, a haunted graveyard and plenty of storefront trick or treating.
By 5:42 p.m., 15 minutes before the start of the shindig, the parking lots were jam-packed and Main Street was swarming with thousands of families and little kids in Halloween getups carrying plastic jack-o'-lanterns. There was even a schnauzer who sported an orange and black mohawk.
"We've gone through five five-pound bags and it's only been half an hour," said Bryce Larkin, 13, who was passing out candy at a trick or treat booth sponsored by Carpenter's Family Taekwondo. "Of course we put a lot back because the kids are picky."
Down the road in the haunted graveyard, Natasha Caro, 4, was sticking her blue-wigged head in a shackle while Mom took photos. Caro and her sister were dressed like Lalaloopsy dolls with neon curly hair and even brighter doll dresses.
"My favorite part of Boo Fest is getting the candy," Natasha said, showing her basket already half-full.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024.