West Bloomfield author surprises Berkley woman with Grand Hotel vacation

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published November 4, 2015

BERKLEY — Prior to last year, Kendra Montante had never heard of “booing,” at least not the concept of paying it forward around Halloween.

Booing has happened all over the country for more than 30 years, Montante, a West Bloomfield resident, said, and the concept asks families to put together treat bags for their friends and neighbors and then place the bags, along with a description and window-cling ghost, on the porch and ring the doorbell before running away.

Montante said it is a form of paying it forward, where the family that gets “booed” then puts the ghost in their window, signaling that they have been booed, and then does the same for another friend or neighbor.

The concept was so intriguing that Montante decided to write a children’s book on it. “Booing: A Halloween Tradition” came out in September, complete with a window ghost, instructions and an introductory poem.

This year, Montante had the opportunity to boo a family in grand fashion — in Grand Hotel fashion.

In collaboration with the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Montante booed Berkley resident Julie White and her family Oct. 22 and presented White and her husband with an all-expenses-paid trip to the Grand Hotel during the Halloween weekend.

“I had partnered previously with the Grand Hotel, and they contacted me and said they would love to give away a weekend trip to a family that had been through a rough year,” Montante said. “Julie was the perfect person, as she has five kids and suffered from postpartum depression with each of them. Then last year their home was hit hard from the August flood, and they lost a lot of stuff.”

White has two sets of twins — two boys who are 4 years old and two other boys who are 18 months old. She and her husband, Brian White, also have a 6-year-old son.

In working through her postpartum depression, White became part of the Beaumont Hospital parenting program, where she met with other mothers of twins and other mothers dealing with postpartum depression. White has volunteered with several groups for a few years.

“I started as a patient and going to a twins group and a postpartum adjustment group, as I was hit hard and they saved me,” White said. “The help they gave me totally changed my life and made me a better parent and better member of society, so I could help others. So now whenever they call and need something, I am there.”

Montante had volunteered with the parenting program and contacted the program director to see if the program had anyone who would be a recipient for the Grand Hotel trip, at which time she learned about White.

White said she was told to have her family home at a certain time Oct. 22, but she wasn’t expecting such a big surprise.

“I was very surprised and honored that they chose me to be the recipient of that prize,” she said. “That was the first time we have ever been booed, and our kids are loving her book. I think we have read it 10 times in the past four days.”

The idea for a children’s book wasn’t a new one, Montante said, as she was already working on a book before researching booing. Soon after, she scrapped her first book and began the story of two kids and their family getting booed, and the excitement involved in being booed and being the one paying it forward.

Montante said she was surprised that there was not a book about it, but more than just the book, she thinks the idea is great for families and children.

“We love tradition in my household, and part of it is teaching your children to do nice things for others,” she said. “Kids today are very consumed with themselves and what they get and what is good for them, so this is a great lesson about doing something nice for somebody else and not expecting anything else in return.”

As for paying it forward, White said her family can’t wait to surprise another family.

“We are excited to get away for the weekend and being together alone without kids, as we have never been to the Grand Hotel,” White said before their trip. “But we have our bags together on the table to boo two of my sons’ friends with coloring books and crayons and cookies and other treats.”

For more information about booing and Montante’s book, visit www.kendramontante.com.