With fire juggling, roving packs of clowns, and oddities encased in jars, the rain and lightening only added to the eerie carnival that blanketed Whiting's downtown like an otherworldly fog on Saturday for Wickedly Whiting.
The normally small-town strip of 119th Street transformed into a haven for mayhem for one day to make way for Wickedly Whiting, the third annual festival celebrating all things "Halloween," with a creepy circus twist.
"[Festival-goers] are either all for it, or there's a look of terror on their face," Alexa Cano, Executive Assistant of the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce said. "It's one of the other."
The event included circus style performances, live music, games, food, specialty craft vendors, costumed performers, family activities, a craft beer garden and more, all among the chilling decor that stretched down the street.
Cano said she and the Chamber began planning for Wickedly Whiting back in February.
"It's definitely grown a lot," she said. "So many people come together to put this event on, it truly is a team effort. That's the amazing thing about Whiting: we work together, we stand together. It's amazing what work goes into this event."
Pinkerton Xyloma, a vaudeville performer who did everything from juggling fire to swallowing balloon swords to taking a nail hammered up his nose, said Wickedly Whiting provided the perfect atmosphere for the sideshow troop, Dead Man's Circus.
"Street festivals like this are where circus skills originated," Xyloma said. "Here the audience can experience the real awe and magic of it all."
Fellow performer Sylvi Sylvester, hula-hooping extraordinaire, said it's been such a great first year as a part of Wickedly Whiting that she will knock on the chamber's doors if they don't get invited to next year.
"I think it's so cool to have something like this - celebrating Halloween," she said. "They make it friendly for kids but also have things for adults to see."
Mark Mybeck and his band, Nomad Planets, dressed head to toe as creepy clowns for their tradition of taking the stage during Wickedly Whiting.
"It's a really great deviation from regular Oktoberfests," Mybeck said. "It's a privilege to be a part of this event, we've had a great association with the City of Whiting. They always do such an awesome job here."
Cano said she hunted down all of the local Halloween and macabre crafters she could to fill the street with creepy curiosities.
For Ernest Sanchez, owner of At Ease Arts and Oddities, there's no better place to sell his embalmed baby sharks and octopie, as well as his bottled insect collection.
"I get a lot of great reactions," he said. "One kid came in and looked and held his hand over his mouth like he was about to throw up. Then you have people who are opposite, some are just intrigued by it, some people are spooked. I like to see both reactions. It's pretty much the freak show come to the circus."
Mandi "Drunkenstein" of Drunkenstein Art sold handcrafted voodoo dolls and mini painted coffins.
"People are afraid of my voodoo dolls," she said. "But it actually makes me happy they're scared of them."
Annie Caldarulo of Madame Moth's felt at home with her framed preserved bats and scorpions, alongside her jewelry that incorporates anything from human teeth to animal bones.
"It's such a fun and unique fest," Caldarulo said. "We are most comfortable at shows like this because this is our crowd, the weirdos who look for different oddities."
To keep up with the latest events in the City of Whiting, visit www.whitingevents.com.