Halloween should be kids' treat, not adults'

October 28, 2002|By Kevin Cowherd

With Halloween nearly here, I wonder if I could take a moment to address my fellow adults out there and to ask, as respectfully as possible: Could we please give Halloween back to the kids?

Let's face it: Sometime in the last 10 years or so, Halloween was co-opted by adults.

Apparently, adults saw kids having so much fun dressing up in costumes and extorting candy from homeowners and running around in the dark that they thought: Why can't we get in on that?

So naturally they did - in a big way, too.

According to a recent study quoted by Hallmark, the greeting card giant, 73 percent of adults plan to participate in Halloween festivities this year.

And here's where it gets really ugly: Nearly a third of these adults plan to dress up in costumes.

It would be one thing, of course, if the adults dressed up in their goofy costumes - Cruella de Vil, Austin Powers, whatever - and went off to a Halloween party and got half-loaded and didn't annoy their kids.

But, no, for some reason, many of these adults feel compelled to inflict themselves on their kids and horn in on their activities.

So now you have dads dressed like the psycho in the Scream movies leaping out of the bushes with rubber knives on Halloween night as trick-or-treaters approach the house.

Now you have moms dressed like Morticia Addams in cleavage-baring get-ups handing out Kit-Kat bars and gummy bears to the little dears.

Now you have all sorts of adults wandering the streets dressed as witches and wizards, sipping their Amstel Lights and Pinot Grigios - look, you have to drink if you're gonna do this stuff - as they accompany their kids from house to house.

This is a lot different than it was when I was a kid 200 years ago, I'll tell you that. Back then, the role of parents on Halloween night was clearly delineated.

First, they were supposed to answer the door when trick-or-treaters knocked and comment favorably on each kid's costume, even if it was totally lame. ("And what are you supposed to be, Timmy? Oh, a baseball player. And that's why you're wearing that glove and carrying that ball. Yes, well, I can see that.")

Then they were supposed to hand out the candy. And then they were supposed to get out of the way.

But getting out of the kids' way has always been hard for adults, particularly adults of my generation, baby boomers, who are nothing but big kids anyway.

Baby boomers, it seems, will do anything to hold onto the last vestiges of their youth, even if it means donning a corny Count Dracula costume on Halloween and turning their garage into a "haunted house" complete with black lights, fake bats fluttering overhead and spooky music echoing from a boombox.

Oh, I know, I know ... sometimes kids like seeing adults get into the spirit of the night.

But sometimes, judging from the eye-rolling I've seen, they find the Halloween antics of grown-ups to be a bit much.

Anyway, if you're an adult and you're still determined to dress up and pester your kids this Halloween, you may be interested to know the most popular costume for males this year is Spider-Man.

This, of course, leads to the alarming prospect that on Thursday night, our streets will be overrun by armies of out-of-shape dads in tight red and blue stretch fabrics, which could permanently ruin the superhero costume business.

Dressing up as foul-mouthed rocker Ozzy Osbourne is also said to be big for guys this Halloween, although you may not want to launch into one of Ozzy's spirited rants around the kiddies.

And if you want to part with the big bucks, a Gandalf costume - he's that wizard from Lord of the Rings with the ZZ Top beard - could set you back a cool $200.

For women, dressing up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz is still big, as is the "sexy witch" look, which is always a big hit at parties, with broomstick and pointy black hat optional.

Speaking of parties, according to the people who track this sort of thing, Halloween is now the third most popular day for parties, behind New Year's Eve and Super Bowl Sunday.

In other words, the day has become another excuse for shameless cavorting.

Oh, don't get me wrong here. I am all for shameless Halloween cavorting among adults and have even cavorted shamelessly myself on several Halloweens.

But maybe we could leave the trick-or-treating and the running around in the dark to the kids.

I bet they'd appreciate that.

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