Halloween still a big deal for adults and kids
Depending on where you go on Halloween, you might see tiny zombies, ghosts, and superheroes flooding neighborhoods, or you might not see anything at all.
As the Oct. 31 tradition has grown over the past 50 or so years, has it left kids behind?
A look at the numbers is revealing — $8 billion will be spent by U.S. consumers this Halloween, but the National Retail Federation reported 71.5 percent of adults said they were planning to celebrate the holiday themselves.
“Adults have always looked for another chance to get together and have a good time,” said DeeDee Mitchell, Dean of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Bossier Parish Community College.
To take a closer look, estimates are that adults will spend more on costumes for themselves ($1.2 billion) than for their kids ($1 billion) in 2012. And a good indicator of this is the rise in popularity of “pop-up” Halloween stores like the Spirit Halloween location on Highway 80 in Haughton — less than 10 years ago there were only 150 Spirit locations, now there are 1,000 nationwide.
Mitchell has some special insight into motives of the holiday not only with her profession, but her role as a parent.
In her 16 years of taking her kids to trick-or-treat, Mitchell has noticed adult participation waning.
“Kids are still trick-or-treating and it's still fun to get dressed up, but a lot more people turn their lights off and don't participate in giving out candy in neighborhoods.
She said this and a movement towards safety has created a push towards area churches' fall festivals.
“A lot of church fall festivals allow the kids to dress up and I've seen a lot of them even have haunted houses suitable for the kids,” Mitchell said. Families are moving towards churches and they have opened it up to the entire community, no matter what denomination you are.”
Originally a Celtic ceremony started in the mid-1500s, Halloween was known as All Hallows Eve, when the living prayed for those whose souls had yet to reach heaven.
Halloween hit American popular culture as a child holiday with the suburban boom in the 1950s. Then, in the 1970s, adult interest in Halloween grew as horror movies became a seasonal staple of the holiday.
Now there are various ways to celebrate the holiday, no matter your age:
- Fall Fests. Many churches in the area offered a family alternative to traditional Halloween fare. These included fun that was less scary and adult oriented, and included activities exclusively for kids and their parents.
- Haunted houses. Party Central’s Scary Central is the only Bossier City-specific Halloween haunted house. This year's theme was “Terror Under the Big Top” with the walk-through being circus themed.
- Seasonal stores. Approximately 1,000 Spirit of Halloween pop-up stores opened between early September and Halloween, including one on Highway 80 near Haughton. The stores sell a vast array of Halloween merchandise, that range from small accessories to $199 animatronic decorations.
No matter how the fall tradition is celebrated, research shows Halloween will be celebrated.
Consumers will spend an average of $123 this Halloween, more than twice the average $53 that they spent on it a year ago, reports American Express Saving & Spending Tracker.
In fact, Halloween is now as the number two holiday in consumer spending for decorations, after Christmas.
And Mitchell says it will always be around in some form.
“Halloween is going to stay,” she said. “People are just getting more creative in their events. The kids are there to have a good time and get candy. It's about fun.”
Play it safe
The Bossier City Police Department is advising children and parents to exercise safety and care while Trick-or-Treating on Halloween night Wednesday and asks parents to end door-to-door Trick-or-Treating by 8 p.m. as a courtesy to residents. Police Chief Shane McWilliams is urging motorists to be especially watchful for Trick-or-Treaters that evening as they go door-to-door. Police will step up patrols in residential areas on Halloween night where children are present to help keep them safe.
The BCPD offers the following safety tips to parents whose children will be out Trick-or-Treating:
- Never allow children to trick-or-treat without responsible adult supervision.
- Always stay in groups.
- Avoid long, fancy costumes that may cause children to trip and fall.
- Use sidewalks and stay out of the street whenever possible.
- Wear reflective clothing or bright costumes.
- Trick-or-treat in familiar neighborhoods.
- Don’t allow children to eat treats until a responsible grownup examines them.
- Call police if any suspicious activity occurs, or if candy is suspected to be tainted.