(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Hollywood characters seem to be the inspiration for those selecting costumes this Halloween.
"The 'Pirates of the Caribbean' are huge for all ages -- and even dogs and cats," said Marlene Bell, co-owner of Show Me Rental's Stonehaus, a costume and accessory shop located at Sikeston Factory Outlet Stores.
"Star Wars" characters like Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are also popular with all ages, Bell said.
"I think people are so stressed out with their lives that this is one time a year they can let their hair down and have some fun. It's becoming someone else for a day or night," Bell said.
Most people purchase costumes to attend a party, Bell said.
"There are still people who dress up to hand out candy, but there's such an increase now in the amount of adult costume parties. There are a lot of costume contests that are hosted by various clubs, organizations and businesses," Bell said.
The Power Rangers and Spider-Man, specifically with the black suit, are big with boys. Shrek also remains a favorite. For girls, pink Supergirl, Disney Princess Cinderella, Bratz and Princess Leia, Bell said.
Favorite infant costumes include a little puppy, pea in a pod, poodle, little bat and a chili pepper. And funny costumes like an outhouse and kissing booth are among the unique costume favorites, she said.
"Even though the schools have placed some restrictions on what children can or cannot wear to their school festivities, it still remains a huge event for people of all ages and not just in the costume wear but in the home decor," Bell said about the holiday.
And for pets, it's Hollywood-themed costumes like Yoda, Wonder Woman, Jack Sparrow and Puss 'n Boots from "Shrek" that have been popular.
"We have a good variety this year," Bell said. "The industry has really enhanced the variety of the plus-sized costumes because not everyone is a size 8," Bell said.
"Pirates of the Caribbean," Spider-Man and princesses are the top children's costumes at Wal-Mart in Sikeston, said Rachel Young, department manager who has worked at Wal-Mart for 17 years. A unicorn costume that looks like the child is riding it is popular. For babies, ladybugs, pumpkins and tigers are popular costumes, she said.
Adult women costumes include the bar maid and other gothic outfits, and the pimp costume for men is popular as well as the Nightmare on Elm Street" mask and accessories, Young said.
The National Retail Federation picks princesses and pirates, often of the Disney variety, and Spider-Man to be the top children's costumes of the year, while Yahoo! Shopping adds ''Star Wars,'' ''Hannah Montana'' and ''High School Musical'' as favorites with trick-or-treaters.
''Sometimes I feel I'm either on Wall Street or a movie mogul, I pay such attention to the box office,'' says Mary Ellen Turner, Party City's divisional vice president of seasonal departments.
At Party City, ''Transformers'' and ''Hannah Montana'' costumes are on top, while Amazon.com's Halloween store suggests ''Harry Potter,'' ''Shrek'' and ''High School Musical.''
And it's not just movies -- the big names in toys are another source of costume inspiration. Barbie-themed costumes are consistent performers and Transformers were in toy chests before they stormed the movie industry, notes Mark Randall, vice president of toys and baby for Amazon.com. Randall will be looking at the fall '08 toys next week for inspiration for next year's costumes.
''A licensed character is a powerful engine, whether it starts with a DVD, a Saturday morning cartoon, a network or a book like 'Narnia' or 'Harry Potter,''' agreed Turner. ''They're such powerful influencers for children and, quite frankly, adults, too.''
Couple and group costume favorites include pirates and characters from "Star Wars" and "The Wizard of Oz." One couple even purchased a bowling ball and pin set, Bell said.
Does Brangelina count as a character costume? A survey by Shop.com finds that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are the most anticipated celebrity couple costume, followed by Bill and Hillary Clinton, David and Victoria Beckham, and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
''Our generation of parenting is about including the kids and getting included in their lives,'' Turner said. ''The Halloween holiday accentuates family fun."
There's a tradition, Bell said. "A lot of families have the tradition of celebrating Halloween. They make part of their tradition coming to the Stonehaus. As much a fun experience and as much of a Halloween experience coming to the store."
Accessories are as important as the costume itself, Bell said. "Some people just come in and are looking for unique accessories and hard-
to-find items," Bell said.
Stonehaus' biggest sales period are the three days before Halloween, Bell said.
"I don't know why that is," Bell said. "It seems like parents, particularly the mothers with the infants/newborns and toddlers are the first ones in. Then the largest number of sales we make come in the week of Halloween, and that's primarily young adults and adults."
Young agreed. "It seems like everybody's waiting until the end to purchase their costumes," Young said. "They're shopping now, and next week they will go wild."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.