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After Work: Getting Ready For The Goblins

…In New York City we do things in a big way. Halloween is no exception. New York City is the site of one of the largest celebrations in the country. The Village Halloween Parade entertains two million sidewalk spectators and an estimated four million television viewers.

This event has grown from a fairly low-key parent child stroll through the West Village of a couple of decades ago, one that was lovingly described by New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin, to a spectacle with professional polish. There are larger-than-life size puppets, troupes of well-rehearsed dancers and costumes both over-the-top and barely there. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get in touch with your inner drag queen…

Dona Gibbs is ready and waiting for an “invasion’’ of excited young witches, fairies, princesses and pirates tomorrow as the USA happily goes Halloween crazy.

Tap, tap. Ka-ching.

“That’ll be $26.53, please,” the cashier drummed her candy striped, two-toned acrylic fingernails impatiently on the supermarket countertop.

I was buying bags and bags of wrapped miniature chocolates, chewing gum and little packs of those brightly colored candies that the visiting space alien, E.T., made famous a few decades ago.

Tomorrow, witches, princesses, ghosts and, undoubtedly, Spiderman, will be ringing our bell for Halloween trick or treat.

Halloween has become a major holiday in the United States – second only to Christmas. Retailers are hoping that the national Retail Federation’s recent forecasts are accurate. The organization estimates that consumers will spend $5.07 billion on Halloween this year for treats, costumes, decorations and party preparations. That’s up from the $4.96 billion spent last year and the $3.29 billion they shelled out for Halloween celebrations the year before that.

Thirty-three percent of folks in the U.S. say they’ll take their children trick or treating. Trick or treating, if you’re not familiar with the term, is this: Hordes of costumed children swarm the neighborhoods, ringing doorbells and yelling, “Trick or treat!” They stand expectantly on thresholds with shopping bags open while householders hand over the goodies.

It’s been my long and happy experience that the majority of trick or treaters who’ve visited fall into the three to nine-year-old demographic. At that age they have a firm grasp of notion of a treat but don’t yet have a clue as to what kind of trick they’d play if no candy were offered.

The more sophisticated would probably think a good trick would involve pushing all the elevator buttons in our New York City apartment building so the elevator would slowly creak its way down, stopping at every floor. Maybe to add to the trick, they’d yell, “Doodie Head,” as the door opened along the way.

Tricks older kids play usually involved strands of toilet paper draped in shrubbery, shaving cream sprayed on doors and sometimes but rarely eggs tosses. The retail figures probably don’t reflect those expenditures.

There will be $1.57 billion worth of candy handed out, according to the survey. The average householder will toss $19.84 worth into those goody bags. While my tab is over that amount, it’s not way over. We live in a child-dense area. I purchased my candy in a chain supermarket; most Halloween candy is bought at discount stores, I read.

Reading the survey, I find that 66.7 percent plan to decorate. I’ve only bought five measly mini pumpkins. Pumpkins are a traditional part of Halloween décor, an idea that originated in Ireland and Scotland, where the celebration got its start during pagan times.

The pumpkins become Jack O’ Lanterns when they are carved with comic or grotesque faces. Often the inside orange flesh is scooped out and a candle is inserted. It makes for a wonderful spooky effect.

As you might imagine, pumpkin farmers are delighted with the custom. They annually produce one billion pounds of pumpkin with the state of Illinois leading the way. That means sales of $101 million a year. A lot goes into pies but many, many of those pumpkins end up on front doorsteps.

There are costumes, wonderful costumes. The Celts believed that this was a time of year when the spirit world came closest to the world of the living and it would be safer to dress as “one of them.” The U.S. suburbs swarm with fantasy this night. Princesses, pirates, fairies, witches, and the aforementioned Spiderman are the most popular. I once opened the door to find a small table, set with napery, cutlery and a small human head in the center. I predict a successful creative career for that trick or treater.

Adult costumes, according to a spokesman for a leading Internet supplier, now surpass sales of their kiddy versions. Adults are most likely to don pirate, vampire, cat, princess and Star Wars outfits. Retro outfits from the sixties and seventies are growing in popularity, the Internet retailer reports.

And this being the United States, we don’t forget our pets. An orange bandanna for your
Golden Lab just won’t hack it October 31. Over seven million Americans say they’ll dress their dogs and cats as devils, pumpkins, witches or princesses.

In New York City we do things in a big way. Halloween is no exception. New York City is the site of one of the largest celebrations in the country. The Village Halloween Parade entertains two million sidewalk spectators and an estimated four million television viewers.

This event has grown from a fairly low-key parent child stroll through the West Village of a couple of decades ago, one that was lovingly described by New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin, to a spectacle with professional polish. There are larger-than-life size puppets, troupes of well-rehearsed dancers and costumes both over-the-top and barely there. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get in touch with your inner drag queen.

Oh, and here’s one last Halloween fact. More beer is consumed on Halloween than any other American holiday –with the exception of St. Patrick’s Day.

What will I be doing on Halloween? I’ll be waiting for witches, fairies, princesses and pirates who ring the bell and always say, “Thank you!”

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