Hurricane Matthew: Fright Nights in West Palm Beach canceled this weekend

Hurricane Matthew update: Fright Nights in West Palm Beach, has been canceled for this weekend, according to a Fright Nights representative. The popular Halloween event was set to open Thursday, Oct. 6 at the South Florida Fairgrounds with a ‘Behind the Scenes’ tour.

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Fright Night characters. (Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post)

The event will resume next Thursday, Oct. 10 and continue Thursday through Saturday nights through Oct. 30. For more information check the Fright Nights website or call 561-793-0333. And to get the latest updates on Hurricane Matthew check our WeatherPlus blog.

For all Halloween-related events, check out our Halloween events guide.


Hurricane Matthew: Clematis by Night canceled in West Palm Beach

Hurricane Matthew update: Due to the storm, the free Thursday night event in downtown West Palm Beach, Clematis by Night, has been canceled for Thursday, Oct. 6.

The pop-rock band Chemradery, who were due to play on that night, will be rescheduled for a later date. Clematis by Night will resume on schedule on Thursday, Oct. 13 with Emily Brooke as the scheduled entertainment.

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Chemradery. (Palm Beach Post file photo)

For more info, check the City of West Palm Beach website. And to get the latest updates on Hurricane Matthew check our WeatherPlus blog.

Hurricane Matthew: status of Fall Family Fun Fest is ‘to be determined’

Hurricane Matthew update: The status of this event is “to be determined.” Get the latest updates on Hurricane Matthew on our WeatherPlus blog.

Lots of families will be at Fall Family Fun Fest at South Florida Science Center and Aquarium this Saturday. More than two hundred say they’re going to attend on Facebook and a couple of thousand are thinking about it.

For the sixth time, the center hosts children of all ages to enjoy themed crafts, face painting, bounce houses, live science demonstrations and carnival-style games.

The Fall Family Fun Fest will feature face painting. Here, Carl Duhaney sits still for an artist at last year's festival.
The Fall Family Fun Fest will feature face painting. Here, Carl Duhaney sits still for an artist at last year’s festival.

People seem most excited about the Every Kid’s Dream petting zoo that will be on site from 11am – 3 pm.

And if that’s not enough, just think: This awesome event is included when you pay regular admission to the science center, which means, you’ve also got the science center to explore.

Purchase tickets for adults and children here. 

The Deets:

What: Fall Family Fun Fest

When: Saturday, Oct. 8 from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Where: South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, 4801 Dreher Trail N, West Palm Beach, FL 

Cost: $13 for adults, $9 for children 3-12, $11 for seniors and free for members.

Best of the weekend: Did we snap your photo at these fun-filled festivals?

It’s that time of year when weekends are filled with festivals galore! And this weekend kicked off two big ones:

The Latin Food and Music Festival:

The Latin Food and Music Festival went above and beyond the expectations.
This was the inaugural Latin event of its kind held at the South Florida Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18 in West Palm Beach. Surprisingly, it brought an outstanding attendance doubling expectations.

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The crowd enjoys the live music at the Latin Music & Food Festival at the South Florida Fairgrounds Sept. 17 and Sept. 18, 2016.

The event was split into two different areas: indoor bazaar-style market, and outdoor food ‘paraiso!’ From Colombian Arepas and Mexican Tacos to your typical fair funnel cakes, the food offerings featured many Latin American flavors. But where was the fiesta? Inside, with AC!
Don’t let the commodity of the air conditioning fool you, the party was hot! Headliners such as Tito Puente Jr. and Angel y Kriz performed lively on stage, meanwhile, the guests got to show off their Latin moves with each classic tune. Even the police officers couldn’t help but move!

Did we snap your photo at the Latin Music & Food Festival? Here’s a photo gallery from the event!

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2016 Taste of Soul Food Festival in downtown West Palm Beach. (Corvaya Jeffries/The Palm Beach Post)

The Taste of Soul Food Festival

If there was one thing you missed by not attending West Palm Beach’s Taste of Soul Food Festival on the downtown waterfront, it was the amazing Caribbean dishes and soul food plates. For less than $10, you got a protein, and at least three sides and a drink.

The live music performances kept men and women on their feet and in front of the stage vibin’ the entire time. Even the children were shaking their hips as they danced to songs like “Cha-Cha Slide” and “Drop That ‘NaeNae.”

Many attended the event to see Stephen Marley’s performance. He and his band arrived just as the sun was setting. The sounds of his voice and the live band were soothing and served as the perfect way to end the night.

Did we snap your photo at the Taste of Soul Food Festival? Here’s a photo gallery from the event!


Halloween Horror Nights: killers, ghouls and one very scary little girl

The face of ‘The Exorcist’s little possessed girl Regan (Linda Blair). who haunted my dreams for years as a kid. (Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort.)

ORLANDO — When the leaves turn brown and begin to fall, when the weather starts getting a tad nippier at night, when the NFL season is in full swing, that only means one thing….it’s time to get the living heck scared out of you at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort.

Yes, the 26th annual frightfest returns Friday, running on select nights through Oct. 31 with nine haunted houses, including those featuring Leatherface, the chainsaw-loving homicidal maniac from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre;” Michael Myers, the knife-wielding, slow-walking killer from, oh, 68 “Halloween”  films; the bloodthirsty zombies from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and, the one I’m looking forward to most, the pea soup-spewing, head-spinning demonic little girl from “The Exorcist” – still the scariest movie ever made.

If that’s not enough, look for more chills and thrills inside “American Horror Story,” FX’s wildly popular anthology, but ridiculously violent, series and “Krampus,” a horned creature who punishes children at Christmastime. Gives new meaning to the “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” lyrics, “You better watch out/You better not cry/You better not pout/I’m telling you why,” doesn’t it?

Also look for five scare zones and two live shows.

Anyone who really knows me, knows Halloween Horror Nights is one of my favorite events of the year. I moved to Florida from New York in 1996 with my family and I’ve been to every HHN since.

What I looked like before venturing inside Michael Myers' house at Halloween Horror Nights two years ago.
What I looked like before venturing inside Michael Myers’ house at Halloween Horror Nights two years ago.

Two years ago was one of my favorites as I stood toe-to-toe with Michael Myers, wondering if I was going to make it out of his Haddonfield, Ill., house alive. OK, so I wasn’t really wondering that since this is all make-believe stuff, but, hey, work with me here.

This year, I’m psyched about “The Exorcist,” a movie that haunted my dreams for months after seeing it as an 11-year-old kid when the film premiered in 1973. I wasn’t alone. Moviegoers were reported fainting in theaters. I wasn’t that bad. I just covered my eyes a lot. If I had another set of hands, I would’ve covered my ears while little girl Regan (Linda Blair) was speaking in tongues. I still haven’t forgiven my mom for taking me.

Anyway, I’m 54 now. Way past the childhood trauma of watching a little girl’s head spin 360 degrees while she’s saying the kind of naughty things no little girl has any business saying.

At least, I hope I’m past that trauma. I’ve seen the film several times since 1973 and usually rent it around Halloween as part of my own personal “Horrorfest” movie marathon I host at home. But watching a film and seeing a possessed little girl whose voice is deeper than mine in person are two different things.

Look for an upcoming blog on my reaction to little girl Regan’s evil antics in the coming weeks.

For more ghoulish information on HHN, click here….if you dare! (Cue sinister laugh)



9/11 anniversary: Why I can’t let go of my Sept. 11 ‘hurt locker’

090211 (Ray Graham/The Palm Beach Post)--Studio--We need a photo of this old Samsonite suitcase I have that is filled with a bunch of stuff from the week of 9/11/2001.
Post reporter Staci Sturrock’s old Samsonite suitcase is filled with ephemera from the week she spent in New York City covering 9/11. (File photo/The Palm Beach Post)

The 15th anniversary of 9/11 is Sunday. Palm Beach Post reporter Staci Sturrock wrote this column on the tenth anniversary of the attack:

It’s been years since I had the heart to sift through the contents of the vintage suitcase in my spare bedroom. But recently, I flipped open the latches of the hard-sided, marbled-green Samsonite.

There was the paper air-filter mask someone handed me on the streets of New York 10 years ago this Sunday.

There were the reporter’s note pads, scribbled with quotes like this one from an eyewitness to the attack on the twin towers: “At first, we were just watching the smoke, and then we saw people jumping or bodies falling out of the windows. They were like rag dolls.”

Or this one, jotted down two days later outside the Lexington Avenue Armory, where families sought help in locating what we then called “the missing”: “We just hope someone will tell us where we can go to find our son.”

And there, the pair of battered black sandals.

I wore the shoes most of that week, when I happened to be in New York to attend fashion shows, and wound up covering a national tragedy.

Now, I remember why I couldn’t bear to look inside the suitcase. It’s my very own “hurt locker” of recent history.


The Samsonite is also a time capsule of sorts, a historic relic, a souvenir of an era long past.

This particular model was popular in the 1950s, when the person who drove you to the airport could escort you to the gate and kiss you goodbye. When you didn’t have to remove your shoes and belt and jacket to pass through security. When grabbing your bags and heading to the airport meant packing your sense of adventure, not a couple of Xanax.

Stored inside, I can see the technological changes of 10 years. There’s a small stack of faxes.

A horizontal credit-card receipt that had been put through an old-fashioned, sliding imprinter. A packet of 36-exposure film developed at an Eckerd drugstore, not instantly routed from a phone to my Facebook page.

The photos trace my path after I scribbled this note during the initial post-attack phone call from my editor: “first person story, center of the apocalypse, walk as far south as possible.”

And so, around 10 that morning, I headed south from my Times Square hotel. Along the way, I talked to dazed New Yorkers and aimed my point-and-shoot camera at pedestrians trudging mid-avenue, pausing to stare at smoke billowing in the distance.

Out on the streets, news updates weren’t as near as the palm of your hand. Smartphones? Tablet computers? Try the occasional transistor radio or jam box. I didn’t even own a cellphone then, and neither did the many residents waiting at pay phones to call home.

Here’s a photo of information-gathering, circa 2001: two dozen strangers huddled around a car, its windows rolled down and radio cranked up.

And here’s a snapshot of how quickly hospitals mobilized that morning — attached to a tree, a hand-lettered sign that read “Blood needed at St. Vincent’s.”

Scores waited in line to donate at the Greenwich Village hospital, where green-scrubbed doctors stood outside, next to office chairs draped in white sheets, ready to ferry the wounded who never arrived.

And, in my note pad, phrases evoking the surreal nature of a catastrophe that was simply unbelievable, even with the evidence written in a disfigured skyline:

“NYC bus goes by with paramedics in every seat. … Police riding in back of Ford F-250 pickup.”

“A priest wearing a dusty white hard hat.”

“Soot falling from sky like snowflakes.”


In the end, I made it within half a mile of ground zero before encountering a policeman who had every reason to be impatient, but wasn’t. “I even threw NBC out,” he said.  “Unfortunately, you guys gotta go, too.”

The days that followed were a blur of interviews with tourists and mourners and downtown residents trying to retrieve the pets they’d hastily abandoned in apartment buildings adjacent to the Trade Center.

My photos do a poor job of conveying that week’s schizophrenic mix of pride, sorrow and hopefulness: American flags hung from fences and scaffolding. The makeshift memorials of roses and sunflowers, candles and messages of peace. Mailboxes papered over with missing-person fliers.

Those hastily Xeroxed pleas for information — which typically featured professionals in their prime, oblivious to the violent fate that awaited them — were mind-boggling in number.

Two posters were handed to me outside the Lexington armory, where many fathers and mothers, friends and co-workers sought out reporters, or anyone else, who would listen to their stories.

One shows a handsome 32-year-old man in a swimming pool with a young child. He is Mario Nardone, and on Sept. 15, 2001, The New York Times described the bonds broker, who worked on the 84th floor of the South Tower, as the guy with “the million-dollar smile and the million-dollar heart.”

Less than a week later, The Times ran an obit of the lovely woman on the other flier. Rosa Julia Gonzalez, also 32, a Port Authority secretary. After the terrorists flew into the South Tower, Gonzalez called one of her six sisters, then tried to make her way to the street from the 66th floor.

According to news reports, Gonzalez was descending the stairs with her friend Genelle Guzman-McMillan when the building collapsed. Almost 27 hours later, McMillan became the last person pulled alive from the wreckage.

Gonzalez was not so lucky.


Last month, my boyfriend asked, gently and without judgment, if I’d like to get rid of the suitcase, or at least the contents that give it so much physical and emotional weight.

We’ll be in Lower Manhattan on Sunday, and maybe, he suggested, we could leave a few items in tribute at the new 9/11 Memorial, the one inscribed with 2,983 names.

I didn’t know what to say. He finally spoke: “You’re not ready to let it go.”

I guess I’m not, and I’m not sure why. I experienced 9/11 at such a remove that it’s wrong to say I “experienced” it at all. I wasn’t in the center of the apocalypse; I was an observer on its outskirts, and after six long days, I returned to the comforting routines of home.

But it seems heartless to discard the fliers or the photos or the note pads, or even say goodbye to those worn-out sandals.

Now, as I handle the shoes, lyrics from a favorite song by the folk trio The Be Good Tanyas come to mind:

You pass through places
And places pass through you
But you carry ’em with you
On the soles of your travellin’ shoes.

The suitcase is where I carry ’em with me — those memories of places I hope we never pass through again.

Melania Trump: Has she disappeared from the campaign trail?

Melania and Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago.
Melania and Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago.

Melania Trump made one of her first appearances since the Republican National Convention at Wednesday night’s Commander-In-Chief Forum, the Washington Post noted. While daughter Ivanka has been seen frequently on the campaign trail, Melania has been mostly mum since July.

The woman who may become First Lady is extremely private, as The Palm Beach Post’s Barbara Marshall reported. “It’s hard not to feel sorry for Melania Trump,” she wrote.

Read more:

What you don’t know about Melania Trump, the Potential First Lady.

Our complete coverage of Donald Trump’s candidacy.




Honoring Labor Day: Interesting, unique tools used by local crafters, artisans

Georgette Pressler’s water-soluble paints for body painting. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)
Georgette Pressler’s water-soluble paints for body painting. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Today, on Labor Day, we hope these tools are at rest.

But tomorrow begins another day of labor.

Sometimes, work can be more than just a job. It can be an art form, a life mission.

Over the years, we have talked to local workers, crafters and artisans about their trades, and the tools they use. On Labor Day, we thought we’d share with you their life philosophies:

Labor Intensive – Tools of the Trade: Showcasing a Barber, Carpenter, Glassblower and Bodypainter



Flora Friday: Post staff photos of beautiful flowers, gardens in Palm Beach County

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Starry Rosinweed (Silphium asteriscus) at Mounts Botanical Garden. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

Plant life in South Florida is unlike any other place in the country.

In our mild winters, we can grow most northern flowers, from pansies to snapdragons.

But during our hot, humid summers, our landscapes erupt into voluptuous tropical extravaganzas of color, odd leaf shapes and oddities from tropical zones around the world.

Recently, Palm Beach Post staff photographer Bruce Bennett started documenting the botanical splendor found in Palm Beach County. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be featuring some of his favorite photographs.

Bromeliad at The Society of the Four Arts Garden Monday, July 25, 2016. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Bromeliads are a family of monocot flowering plants of 51 genera and around 3475 known species native mainly to the tropical Americas.

photo araceae spathiphyllum
Araceae Spathiphyllum ‘mauna loa supreme’ White Anthurium at The Society of the Four Arts Garden Monday, July 25, 2016. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Anthurium is a genus of about 1000 species of flowering plants, the largest genus of the arum family, Araceae. General common names include anthurium, tailflower, flamingo flower, and laceleaf. The genus is native to the Americas, where it is distributed from northern Mexico to northern Argentina and parts of the Caribbean.

Purple Top Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) at Mounts Botanical Garden Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

The stiff deep lilac spikes of this South American native perennial make long-lasting cut flowers. Purple Top Verbena blooms year-round and is irresistible to butterflies.

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Droplets of water adhere to the leaves of a Crinum lily in Lake Worth early Friday morning, July 22, 2016. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Crinum is a genus of perennial plants that develop from bulbs and have large showy flowers. They are found in tropical and subtropical areas worldwide.

photo Heliconia Rostrata
The pendulous bloom of a Heliconia rostrata (or ‘lobster claw’) hangs colorfully at The Society of the Four Arts Garden Monday, July 25, 2016. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Also known as the ‘False Bird of Paradise,’ Heliconia rostrata is an herbaceous perennial native to Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, and naturalized in Puerto Rico. Known as a host flower to many birds, especially the hummingbird, Heliconias are often used in tropical gardens.

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Starry Rosinweed (Silphium asteriscus) at Mounts Botanical Garden. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

This tough, long-lived native perennial bears yellow daisy flowers nearly year-round in South Florida, and its large blooms attract butterflies and other insects.

World Snake Day: How to catch a snake with your bare hands!

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Jim Lipscomb of the South Florida Herpetological Society stares into the eyes of a blood python during the Repticon event held at The Box Expo Center Saturday, April 30, 2016. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

Today is World Snake Day! Although it’s a relatively obsecure holiday, wildlife enthusiasts and snake-lovers join together today to celebrate their common love of snakes.

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Reporter Barbara Marshall holds the python’s head while trying to retrieve the white snake bag.

To pay tribute to this, we recall when Palm Beach Post reporter, Barbara Marshall ‘wrestled’ a mighty python!:

An excerpt from the original story:

“You want me to do what with that?

Catch it with my bare hands?

Ha ha. I thought you were serious.

Wait, you are? You expect me to pick up that giant snake? And put it into a bag? Oh no, no, no. Hell, no.”

Read the entire story: An 8-foot python wrapped around my arm? No problem!