(Photo by Leonna Essner, Staff)
According to a survey by the International Mass Retail Association, nearly 82 percent of Americans are purchasing candy, costumes, decorations and other items for Halloween.
"This year Halloween costume parties are going to be abundant because Halloween is on a Friday night," noted Marlene Bell, co-owner of Show Me Rental in Sikeston.
According to IMRA's year 2000 survey, nearly one-quarter of the adult population planned to attend a Halloween party that year. This number is significantly higher among younger adults--nearly half of those age 18-24 will attend a party, followed by more than one-third of those age 25-34.
"The traditional costumes that are popular each year are the witches, Dracula, Freddy Krueger, devils, werewolves and cheerleaders," Bell said. "Also very ghoulish costumes are popular -- anything dramatic or frightful -- the gorier, the better."
For children, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Spider Man and Scooby Doo are favorites, Bell said. Several customers have requested costumes for Raggedy Ann, Batman, Cat Woman and pirates, too, she said, adding that nuns and priest costumes are also well-liked.
Disney characters like the princesses are popular with the children, said Vicki (last name unavailable), an assistant manager for Big Lots in Sikeston.
And walk into just about any department or specialty store and you find tons of costumes, masks and accessories.
"We can deck adults out in the fully accessorized deluxe costume and down to infants, toddlers and children," Bell said, adding that Show Me Rental took over Stonehaus' inventory when it closed.
For instance, at Show Me Rental customers can find wigs, long gloves, armor suits, swords, shields, helmets and choose from 300 different character masks like Jesse Jackson, Michael Jackson, Hillary Clinton and several of the presidents. There's even animal noses like a mouse, elephant trunk, pig, cat and tiger.
Other popular costume items include oversized clown shoes, angel wings, hats, tights and sickles, Bell said. Prosthetic body parts can be used to complete a costume and also add a realistic touch, she said. Some of those include prosthetic vampire bites, a neck eye, Quasimodo eye, witch noses that are attached adhesively.
Some Halloween enthusiasts who are throwing parties even use an authentic old, coffin for decoration, Bell added.
In addition to the costumes, candy and decorations are hot items at Halloween, the Big Lots assistant manager said. "All kinds of candy is flying out of here," she said. "Talking candy dishes and strings of Halloween lights are also popular. The lights come in electric skulls, bats, ghosts or pumpkins."
Head-on Hilda, a flying witch decoration that looks like it has crashed; scarecrows; spider webs; spiders; pumpkins and porcelain home decor are other sought-after items.
Second only to Christmas, Halloween is the biggest shopping holiday for retailers, generating more than $6 billion in sales.
"We've been selling quite a bit of Halloween party favors," said Paper Factory supervisor Jennifer Morgan. From ghost and pumpkin erasers, pencils, bubbles, light-up pens, to puzzles, flashlights, yo-yos and straws, Morgan said there's plenty to choose from.
"We also have skull shot glasses, Halloween bobble heads, goblets, napkins, plates, stuffed animals and so many other decorations," Morgan said.
Despite the holiday enthusiasm and the hype of Halloween falling on a Friday, local law enforcers don't anticipate any more crime than usual this year and procedures will be no different than any other years.
"The last couple of years have been fairly good Halloweens," said Capt. Dan Armour of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety. "We're going to increase the number of officers and bicycle patrols and beef up the patrol site. There's usually a little more traffic because people are bringing kids out to trick or treat so we'll increase manpower where there's heavy traffic."