According to Celtic legend, Stingy Jack was a thieving reprobate, a chap so nasty he tricked the Devil himself on several occasions. Banned from both Heaven and Hell, Jack had nowhere to go when he died and began roaming the night looking for mischief to perform. Because he fashioned a lamp from a half-eaten turnip and lump of burning coal to guide his way, his victims started calling him Jack of the Lantern. The Celts also knew that October 31, All Hallows Eve, was a dangerous time when spooks could easily perform tricks on the living. They noticed that by crafting a lamp similar to Jack's they could frighten these naughty spirits away. At first the lanterns were made from root vegetables but when the Celtic peoples of Ireland and Scotland migrated to the New World, they found that squash made bigger, sturdier ones. Thanks to the beauty of the autumnally colored fruits, the tradition of creating jack o'lanterns spread to people who are unaware that apparitions really do wander around on Halloween. The easiest way to scare off Jack O'Lantern and to make up for some of his wicked acts is to visit St. John's on the Lake United Methodist Church (4760 Pine Tree Dr., Miami Beach) during its fifth annual Pumpkin Patch fundraiser. The 50-year-old church is well known for its diverse arts and community programs. Beginning today and running through Halloween, the patch will offer more than 5000 pumpkins and Indian gourds. Mouthwatering pumpkin recipes will be available. And the St. John's Pumpkin Patch Angel might pay a visit or two. (No word yet if the Great Pumpkin will sneak in after hours, Linus.) Pumpkin prices start at 50 cents and vary according to size. The proceeds benefit the church and the various programs it sponsors throughout the year. Pumpkin Patch hours are 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12:30 to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday. Call 305-531-7166. -- By Margaret Griffis
Gay parade kicks off
If Miami is such a cosmopolitan metropolis, how is it that there is no annual gay pride event, such as a parade or festival? Hell, there isn't even a gay pride bake sale. Each year come June, while the rest of the civilized world commemorates the Stonewall uprising, we here in Miami either travel to a real pride affair or sit around in our bathing suits bitching.
But not anymore. Today a coalition of gay and lesbian groups and HIV prevention outfits is kicking off a grassroots pride party, Orgullo Pride Miami, to put lavender awareness officially back on the social map.
The event is a 3-part celebration, beginning with a caravan through the city at 11:00 a.m. from the Orange Bowl to the offices of Pridelines Youth Services (180 NE 19th St.). Participants will then march down to Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd.), where there will be a block party featuring several DJs, Marytrini y Las Divas del Jacuzzi, and Elaine Lancaster (above) entertaining the crowd.
Go ahead -- be fabulous and unleash the queen. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Human transporter store deflects recall
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Call it a case of bad timing. Just one day after the Sonesta Beach Resort served gourmet ahi-tuna burgers and cake at its party to inaugurate Relay, South Florida's first Segway Human Transporter dealership, the pesky Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled the high-tech people-movers after users sustained injuries riding the upright lazy-butt enablers while the batteries were low. So what's a dealership to do? Keep trucking along. Turns out the CPSC requested that Segway owners conduct a voluntary software upgrade that mitigates the risks of cracked skulls when the transports poop out. Relay representatives say the company did the necessary work on its machines. Now you can zip around Key Biscayne like a bona-fide techno nerd, but you'll be a safe techno nerd. The Relay Store rents Segways from 9:00 a.m. at the Sonesta Beach Resort, 350 Ocean Dr., Key Biscayne. Rentals start at $30. Call 305-365-4087. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Hitting the Pavement
Whoopie! Reynaldo Elias Rapalo -- alleged serial rapist, child molester, and girlfriend stalker -- is off our streets. Let's have a parade! What better timing for the Domestic Violence Awareness March? Let your feet do a mile of talking at Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd.). And when you stop to rest, let mayors Alex Penelas and Manny Diaz, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, and others fill you in on what they're doing to stomp out the evil lurking in the secret hearts of area abusers. Enjoy a free lunch and watch ACLU lawyers grimace while the Jennifer Act -- a law designed to stop child predators before they actually assault children -- is introduced. Ladies are invited to wear white wedding gowns in honor of Gladys Ricart, murdered by an ex on her nuptial day. Wear anything white and ride there gratis on Metrorail or Metromover between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The march begins at noon. Admission is free. -- By Victor Cruz