Inverness officials criticized over ‘Cooterween’ contest winner depicting a Mexican jumping a wall

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City Council members and Mayor Bob Plaisted took part in judging the costume contest.

Residents reacting to the Inverness “Cooterween” costume contest were not amused to learn one winner depicted a Mexican climbing over a wall while being detained by a border agent.

“Can y’all explain why that costume was first place?” one Facebook comment states. “Some of us are not seeing the originality, effort or humor in it.”

Cooterween is the city’s annual Halloween celebration. For years it was on a Sunday, the wrap to the three-day Great American Cooter Festival, named for the hand-size turtles found in area lakes.

Inverness this year eliminated the traditional Cooter Festival for a three-day Inverness Country Jam in Liberty Park and the Depot District. In doing so, officials moved Cooterween from that Sunday in the park, to Halloween evening in the downtown Courthouse Square.

City Council members and Mayor Bob Plaisted took part in judging the Cooterween costume contest, with categories based on age. One category was for adults.

The winner, a couple, was of a man wearing a colorful poncho with one fake leg over a “U.S.A.” wall, while his wife portrays a border patrol officer detaining him.

“It was the crowd favorite,” Plaisted said.

The city posted photos of Cooterween contest winners on its Facebook page. Most received only a reaction or two, but the photo of the finalists in the adult category drew over 150 comments, mostly critical of the winning selection. Some examples:

— “So let me get this straight … not only was this ‘costume’ allowed to enter the contest. But it was actually intentionally voted for as a winner?”

— “This is incredibly disappointing. It’s not harmless. It’s not funny. It’s tasteless and offensive. The people of this city are speaking out on this post with anger and you need to address your wrongdoing. Shameful.”

— “What message does this send to the Mexican people living in this community? To the children who were there that night and had to see this not only be allowed in the contest but to win? Take accountability for this tasteless mistake!”

Council President Cabot McBride said he thought the costume showed imagination.

“It was topical,” he said. “I didn’t think it was demeaning in any way.”

Told of the Facebook reaction, McBride said: “I truly regret that people felt hurt and offended.”

McBride later directed officials to remove the Facebook post, saying the erupting controversy was drawing unnecessary attention to the city.

“It became not worth it to have it there,” he said.

Plaisted, who has been the city’s Mayor since 2004 and is up for re-election, said he didn’t recall how he voted in the costume contest, but thought there was nothing offensive about the winner.

“People are too sensitive,” he said, “about stuff these days.”

Mike Wright

Mike Wright is a former reporter with the Citrus County Chronicle, where he had covered county government and politics since 1987. Mike's skills as an investigative reporter earned him first-place awards in investigative writing. Mike also helped the Chronicle win the Frances Devore Award for Public Service in 2002.


  • Paul Passarelli

    November 2, 2022 at 8:36 pm

    F***ing NAZIS take all the fun out of a Halloween costume contest.

    • Heather Collins

      November 2, 2022 at 11:14 pm

      Do you not know it makes you sound stupid to call those people who stand up for what’s correct and for what’s right a Nazi?? Nazis were Fascists! They were Racists. History books tell us they were extremely RACIST! Nazis thought the German and the rest of Europe were all superior races. They considered European peoples to be “Aryans” The People standing up for what is right, for being a good human being and for having good manners have nothing in common with a Nazi, with a monster. Nazis are more like a maga puppet, than anything. If you need to do the typical maga thing, you know…. insult people when you don’t agree with their point of view. You might want to do a bit of “book reading ” so you learn correct historical information. Remember you bunch of uneducated racist rednecks! People who defend minorities or anything representing minorities are not GD RACIST! Also try to remember in that tiny brain of yours that NAZIS are just like MAGA idiots and the old orange pig they worship. They were Fascist and extremely RACIST. just like that Pathological Liar, cry baby, Sore Loser, Democracy Destroyer, Rapist of several women since the 1970’s, Presidential Documents Thief, etc. DONALD CHUMP. Nazis had nothing in common with educated people who understand that humans were all created the same, we changed pigmentation depending on the area of the world our ancestors lived in, people who have dark skin, developed dark skin as protection from the sun. People with fair skin lived in areas where it wasn’t as sunny. All of humanity, all Homo Sapiens originated from Northern Africa and then we spread throughout all of Europe, Asia and the American Continent. My point is that fossils found have proven we all came from Africa. How about that? I’m sure those uneducated, racist people in Citrus County will say not them. lol 😉

      • C. ORourke

        November 3, 2022 at 6:21 am

        Heather, could not have said it better. Racism is not funny in any form. The council (McBride) should be ashamed for thinking this is acceptable. The ignorance that still persists about racism is sad to say the least.

      • Paul Passarelli

        November 3, 2022 at 10:28 am

        If they wanted to be ‘enlightened’ then they would have spoken out against the ideas that were behind the costume. They’d’ve started a debate.

        But they didn’t do that. They had the images taken down. They burned the books. That’s what the NAZIs did. You’d know that if you were educated instead of indoctrinated.

        When I was a kid Democrats were about stopping the banning of books that contained unpleasant & unflattering imagery. Today their goal is to destroy it.

        The pendulum has swung. The hippy generation gave birth to the indoctrinated generation, who gave birth to the It’s-for-your-own-good authoritarian-wannabees, and they’ve begat a generation of kids that are so uninformed that they shit where they eat.

        I’m sorry the reference was too subtle for you “heather” of whoever you really are behind the Fake Alias.

        • V

          November 3, 2022 at 8:53 pm

          Democrats aren’t trying to ban books, though. I think you’re confused.

          • Paul Passarelli

            November 4, 2022 at 11:54 am

            Neither are the ones they accuse of banning books. But the accusation of “Book Banning” gets headlines, even when the accusers are know it’s false.

            The books in question about CRT in FL Schools were not ‘banned’ they were ‘deselected’ There is a *HUGE* difference. Try bringing a bible into a public school run by Leftists and they will take it away.

            My freshman general science teacher was a bible thumper, we clashed in ’78, due to a clash in perspective over evolution v. creationism. I dropped his class. He was fired. At that time the public schools were only 75%-80% Progressive-Socialist wacky.

        • Jamie

          November 4, 2022 at 9:33 am

          People did speak out and spark a debate. No one made the City of Inverness take the images down. They silenced that conversation by removing the post themselves and continuing to refuse to have a productive dialogue about their decision to both allow and reward a racist costume-wearer at a government-sponsored, public family event. It’s the city that continues to silence their constituents by deleting comments on subsequent social media posts. If you’re looking for the wannabe-authoritarians, it’s the government officials that represent Inverness, Florida.

          • Paul Passarelli

            November 4, 2022 at 11:39 am

            And the NAZIs only suggested that the Jews & the other “undesirables” load themselves into boxcars.

            The message that the Left sent was clear, the post was taken down to relieve the pain of a bayonet in the ribs. Just like climbing into a boxcar.

      • Remy

        November 4, 2022 at 8:51 pm

        Is there not an issue at our border? Does the news not run stories everyday about the crisis at the border? Let an average citizen use the crisis in a light way to win a costume contest and you lose it! My god it must be tiring have to put up with all these atrocities! Now an outfit taking slavery lightly, yes that is racist! They were forced that hand, but this……come on man! Like they are being forced over the border lol! Lighten up a lil. Know your battles so you dont look bad! If anything this emboldens that oh so racist wall TRUMP wanted, kind of need it eh, or do you like people illegally crossing and harming themselves? Oh and biden allocated millions to start the wall again……..mmmmm, freedom!

  • Steven Wilson

    November 3, 2022 at 11:15 am

    Regrettably, when this hits the national news it’s going to impact our reputation and therefore, our tourism dollars no matter how you voted. Dumb press… and how much do we spend on promoting our town?

  • Catch me at the border how bout dat

    November 3, 2022 at 4:39 pm

    It was just a costume and no racial thought was ever intended what so ever. Ppl have dressed as Indians for how long? Is that racist? And people wanna talk about how horrible for the children to see me onstage. This coming from a generation crying about anything and everything, maybe they should concentrate on parenting rather than social media and maybe our kids wouldn’t be getting told that it’s ok to identify as a dog if they want. Lol

    • Jamie

      November 4, 2022 at 9:08 am

      Yes, dressing up as Native Americans for Halloween absolutely is racist, brainiac.

      • Paul Passarelli

        November 4, 2022 at 10:10 am

        Right! In order to not be racist one needs to pull an Elizabeth Warren aka Fauxcahontas, and take the benefits in college, and/or lie about it to run for president.


        • Jamie

          November 4, 2022 at 10:30 am

          And unlike when Republican politicians are blatantly, viciously racist and no one in their party holds them responsible for the harm they cause, Warren was criticized widely for her actions, apologized for them, and worked to make amends with Native American communities. I know it must be hard for you to understand, but sometimes people can see the error of their ways and grow from them.

          • Paul Passarelli

            November 4, 2022 at 12:18 pm

            She got caught & called out. Nothing more.

      • Remy

        November 4, 2022 at 8:37 pm

        So a child dressing as a favorite disney character would be deemed racist by you? Only native Americans can dress that way? Seems like racism itself in your stance! Your literally saying a person’s skin color decides they can’t do that. Now blackface is racist, but simply dressing native American could be embracing culture but you see racism. You need to look at yourself before casting your ever loving divine judgement.

  • Darryl Dwoske

    November 3, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    How could anyone think this was a great costume! SHAME ON THE JUDGES!

  • jas be

    November 3, 2022 at 11:37 pm

    There was also a photo of the border patrol agent pointing a weapon at the man dressed up as a mexican. disgusting and disappointing.

    • Jeff Rodrigues de Miranda

      November 8, 2022 at 4:02 pm

      I will pay you money if you can get me a copy of that image, I am not even joking.

Comments are closed.


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