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Howling at the Moonfest

Rodney Mayo's annual wild child of a Halloween street party, Moonfest, attracted about 70,000 costumed revelers to West Palm Beach's Clematis Street last year. And that number might have invited a bit too much saucy behavior, admits the longtime restaurateur and owner of Respectable Street and other South Florida nightclubs.

"It was a logistical nightmare," says Mayo, who co-organizes this Saturday's Moonfest with O'Shea's Irish Pub owner Maurice Costigan. The event chokes the 100 to 500 blocks of Clematis Street, "It wasn't fun for the event staff, and it was an event you just wanted to run away from. There was violence. It turned into more than a drunk fest, and it's really hard to restrict 12-, 13-, 14-year-olds at a completely open event."

So, starting this year, and under new regulations from the city's police department, the annual Moonfest will be gated, feature $10 admission and begin turning away under-21 revelers after 9 p.m. The tradeoff is a handful of bands on two stages inside Respectable Street, including alt-pop quartet Guy Harvey, Lake Worth folk-punk troupe Everymen, funk-reggae act Luxury of Company, new wave-inspired quartet Astari Nite, reggae-rock stalwarts Southside Dub and rock-metal quintet Dharmata. And Moonfest's equally provocative headliner, performing at midnight, is … 1980s new wave act Bow Wow Wow, of "I Want Candy" fame?

"Well, we had Flock of Seagulls play one year. We almost booked Missing Persons for another year," Mayo says with a laugh. "The '80s acts are more-recognizable, appealing to the wide audience, but we're still all about the indie cred."

Moonfest's newly added third stage features sounds from DJs Johnny Dangerously, Prism and others. A horde of the undead, participating in Moonfest's Zombie Crawl, will stagger along starting at 7 p.m. on the intersection of North Quadrille Boulevard and Clematis, with $200 each heading to the best-costumed corpse and to the most-Oscar-worthy performance. The block party's costume contest also returns at 11:30 p.m. with a $1,000 first-place cash prize.

"An overdone costume is a look-alike from 'Carrie' or any terrorist. We always get the bloody prom queen and Osama. We'll probably get a few presidential costumes this year, maybe Paul Ryan in his awesome workout tee and backwards hat," Mayo says. "I'm usually a dirty bum, and I just say it's a costume."

The 20th annual Moonfest runs 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday between the 100 and 500 blocks of Clematis Street. $10, $45-$50 for V.I.P. (open bar and Cajun buffet).

954-356-4364, or Twitter @PhilValys

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