Friday Halloween a frightfully big hit

Friday, October 31, 2003

Better buy the jumbo bag of treats this Halloween.

With the holiday on a Friday and fair weather forecast for tonight's Beggar's Night, it looks like throngs will be trick-or-treating, visiting a haunted house or celebrating at a party or bar.

Business has been booming this week at stores selling costumes, treats and Halloween decorations.

At Goodwill Industries, the number of customers has jumped by 50 percent, employee Michelle McAnderson said Thursday.

"We've got costumes here," McAnderson said, gesturing toward a rack of plastic-wrapped garments at the store near 31st and Iowa streets. "But most people are getting inventive and making up their own."

Farmer and mechanic garb were popular choices at Goodwill, McAnderson said. But there were quirky selections as well.

One college student bought a much-too-small snowsuit and a faux fur cap.

"It was hilarious," McAnderson said. "He was a pretty big guy. We about died."

There also was a influx of people in the fabric department at Hobby Lobby, 1801 W. 23rd St. The number of customers has tripled this week, said Carolyn Hill, department manager.


Richard Gwin/Journal-World Photo

Last-minute Halloween shoppers crowd Sarah's Costumes, 927 Mass., in search of the perfect costume for today's festivities.

"Everyone is making things for kids, adults and a few animals," Hill said. "I even saw someone buying something for their monkey."

People spare no expense on costumes, she said, measuring out yard upon yard of gaudy white trim for girls making "Three Amigos" outfits.

"For Halloween, we're busy from the two weeks before, until the very night of," Hill said.

Customer Pam Hird was part of that rush. She was buying gauze to replace the wings on a costume that has become a family tradition.

It's been 23 years since Hird made her brother, Steve Hird, promise to wear tights. In 1980, Pam crafted a prize-winning bumble bee costume for Steve that's still being used today.

The yellow double-knit polyester jumpsuit was designed to be worn with a turtleneck and black leggings. Complete with a stinger and antenna, the costume was a first-prize winner for Steve at a contest.

Since then, the costume has been reused many times. It's been transformed into a worker bee and a killer bee, accessories and all. Topped with a tiara, Pam will be a queen bee this Halloween. That's appropriate for her; today she'll be overseeing the Halloween festivities at Curves for Women, 2104 W. 25th St.

"Back then, we stuffed that costume with crumpled up newspapers to make it a bumble bee," she said, with a chuckle. "We certainly don't need newspapers anymore."

Shelves at Wal-Mart, 3300 Iowa, still were lined with candy Thursday afternoon, but it was going fast.

"We'll have enough," said Cheryl Caldwell, who was carrying five bags of Butterfingers, Whoppers and Crunch bars. "But I need to buy some M&Ms. My kids will eat it before the trick-or-treaters will even come."

Even Priscilla's, an adult-themed store at 1206 W. 23rd St., was full of shoppers sorting through chunky high heels, colorful wigs and all things sheer and slinky.

"This week has been insane," Priscilla's employee Stephanie Chaney said as she rung up the cost of a pair of fishnet tights. "Everyone is looking for costumes. We've had five times the amount of business than usual."

Merrymakers aren't the only ones preparing for a big Halloween night. The Lawrence Police Department will have everyone it can get on duty.

"We know there will be a lot of little trick-or-treaters running around," said Sgt. Mike Pattrick, a department spokesman. "We'll have a full complement of officers and be very visible for any needs that arise."

And considering the weather, Pattrick may be right about many people being out. Ross Janssen, 6News meteorologist, is predicting spooky skies with partial cloud cover for tonight. It will be dry, with a low of 44, he said.