Less-scary Halloween preferred


Staff writer

Once a holiday of ghouls, ghosts and goblins, this Halloween trick-or-treaters are more likely to ring doorbells dressed as Spiderman or rock stars than their creepy counterparts.

Although the holiday has long been moving away from its traditional gory roots, local retailers report a sharp decline in sales of scary costumes since the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Last year, only a month after nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in a series of terrorist attacks in New York and Pennsylvania, few Halloween revelers were ready to dress up in bloody, scary costumes.

The trend has remained intact this year. Costumes modeled after television and movies are the favorites this Halloween, with Spiderman, Austin Powers and Ž“Lord of the RingsŽ” characters topping the list. Pop culture icons and historical figures are also popular, especially among teens and adults.

The move away from HalloweenŽ’s scary roots doesnŽ’t stop with costumes. Even trick-or-treating, once a Halloween mainstay, is increasingly less popular.

Last yearŽ’s scares of potential anthrax-laced candy may no longer be a concern for parents, but some say they arenŽ’t ready to brave the streets quite yet.

Adam Jensen wonŽ’t be taking his 5-year-old daughter, Melissa, trick-or-treating this year. Melissa will don her Ž“Power Puff GirlsŽ” costume for a harvest party at the familyŽ’s church.

Ž“We stayed home last year because everything was so uncertain,Ž” Jensen said. Ž“This year, weŽ’ll just rest a little easier if we know where the candy comes from.Ž”

From schools to churches to shopping centers, there are a variety of safe alternatives available to Federal Way families wishing to avoid the perils of trick-or-treating.

Sea-Tac MallŽ’s Halloween celebration, to be held tomorrow from 5 to 7 p.m., is one of the most popular among local residents. Children under 12 are invited to dress up in costume and trick-or-treat at the stores. Mall administrators say they usually see at least 500 families ŽÑ and the number has only gone up since 9-11 last year.

Although fears have increased, local law enforcement officials stress that it is the usual dangers, not the unusual, that parents need to consider when planning Halloween activities.

Children are four times as likely to be hit by cars on Halloween as any other night of the year. Dimly-lit streets combined with running children and distracted drivers can lead to tragedy.

Ž“Children may be distracted by the excitement of the night and forget about safety,Ž” said Mary Borges, WashingtonŽ’s SAFE KIDS Coalition coordinator. Ž“Many risks of Halloween can be avoided if parents discuss important safety precautions with their kids.Ž”

Still, officials emphasize that trick-or-treating can be a safe, fun way for kids and parents to enjoy the holiday.

For 6-year-old Jason Hendricks, going trick-or-treating each Halloween is something to look forward to all year.

Ž“IŽ’m going to be Spiderman,Ž” said Hendricks. Ž“HeŽ’s the coolest.Ž”

Staff writer Jody Allard can be reachd at 925-5565 and

Tips for a safe Halloween

- Encourage children to wear bright, reflective clothing

- Ensure that costumes fit properly, and are not a tripping hazard

- Always have an adult accompany children

- DonŽ’t wear masks that restrict vision

- Insist that children walk, not run, while trick-or-treating

- Inspect all candy wrappers for possible tampering

For more information on ways to stay safe this Halloween, visit

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