Spooky News: Adults Take Over Halloween

The “adultification” of Halloween will result in a lot of records being broken this season, Bruce Horovitz informs us in USA Today, accelerating a trend toward mortification that has turned “scaring the living daylights out of people” into a year-round business in California’s popular theme parks, as Hugo Martin reports in the Los Angeles Times.

It’s “taking place in virtually every city in America,” Horovitz writes. “At bars. At restaurants. At movie theaters. Even at high-end gift shops. Like treats snatched from a trick-or-treat bag, adults have slowly been stealing Halloween from kids for years. Now it appears, grown-ups own the holiday.”

"I call it Occupying Halloween," consumer anthropologist Robbie Blinkoff tells Horovitz. "My gut tells me that it's bigger than Halloween, and is actually part of our culture. We need to creatively express ourselves to find pure joy."

Knott's Berry Farm entertainment design manager Todd Faux (we assume that’s his real name and not a nom de gore) “is among a handful of fear peddlers at Southern California theme parks who create and manage the … mazes that draw thousands of horror fans in the weeks leading up to Halloween,” writes the L.A Times’ Martin. 

It’s a year-round position during which Faux does research like watching horror movies to inspire the choreography of the roles of about 1,000 or so characters –- which have ranged from the predictable vampires to a deranged butcher, zombie cannibals and a homicidal Pinocchio, according to Martin.  

“Halloween attractions such as haunted houses, theme park mazes and festivals bring in about $300 million in revenue each year, according to the trade group Haunted Attraction Assn.,” he reports. Building a maze alone costs as much as $150,000.

"The days are gone of the black hallway and props on a fishing line," according to the president of the association, Patrick Konopelski. "We now have designers, sets and technicians all taking part in the attractions."

Americans are expected to spend $2.87 billion on Halloween costumes this year, according to a National Retail Federation survey, with $1.4 billion on adult costumes. The average person will spend $79.82 on Halloween candy, costumes and décor, the NRF predicts, bringing total spending to $8 billion -- the most in the survey’s 10-year history.

Nearly six million adults plan to dress as a witch, and 3.2 million will dress as vampires, according to the NRF. As for the kiddies –- remember them? -- $1.1 billion will be spent on costumes. Princess outfits will be the most popular (9.7%), followed by Batman (5.4%) and Spider-Man (4.6%).

The NRF has put together a colorful infographic with more details on the subject. The survey also reveals that although tradition still reigns, consumers are looking for inspiration in new places. “While retail stores, online searches and ideas from family and friends are still king, social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter are gaining an edge,” writes Margaret Case in a blog post accompanying the sharable poster.

USA Today’s Horovitz says that a record two million people are expected at the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade in New York next Wednesday, pumping $90 million into the city’s economy. The festivities will be seen on both WPIX Channel 11 and NY 1

The event’s website leads with an admonition for any stick-in-the-muds who might try to crash the party in normal attire: “Only Those in Costume are Welcome to Join Hundreds of Puppets, 53 Bands of Different Types of Music, Dancers and Artists, and Thousands of other New Yorkers in Costumes of their Own Creation in the Nation’s Most Wildly Creative Public Participatory Event in the Greatest City in the World!”

There are also lots of thing to do in the San Francisco area, from the Erotic Exotic Halloween at Nightclub 46 on Geary Street to the Bachatalicious Halloween Ball at the Cafe Cocomo to an “elegant, gothic Halloween party in honor of Edgar Allan Poe” at the Falkirk Mansion and Cultural Center in downtown San Raphael, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate.com. 

Meanwhile, Americans will spend $370 million on dressing up their pets this year, with 12.7% of them moping around as pumpkins, according to the NRF. The ASPCA has issued a “Top 10 Safety Tips for Pet Parents” advisory. It says that “yup, a few pets are real hams!” but cautions that “dress up can be a big mess-up for some pets.” Illustrating the point, the Chicago Tribune has a photo gallery titled “Why Pets Hate Halloween.”

Soon, we sure, we’ll be informed that surveys indicate that most houseplants prefer going as cobwebs.

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