Few holidays afford the creativity of Halloween — Christmas has its trees and presents, Independence Day has its explosives, but Halloween is celebrated many ways.
Far transmuted from its murky Celtic roots, Halloween in the Denver area runs the gamut from costume parties and balls to haunted houses and a variety of trick-or-treating options for youngsters.
October is an exciting time at Disguises, a sprawling costume shop on West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood.
“We’re here year-round, but the place really comes to life leading up to Halloween,” said Tess Heinonen, who’s worked for Disguises for six years.
Superheroes are big this year, Heinonen said.
“Black Panther is still popular,” Heinonen said. “The Avengers, too. So are villains like the Joker and Harley Quinn — that’s a fun couples’ costume.”
The gut-buster outfit this year is a big floppy T-rex, Heinonen said.
“It’s pretty much impossible not to laugh when somebody’s wearing one,” she said.
Disguises also offers professional makeup consulting for those who want to take their costume up an extra notch.
“We can turn you into lots of the creepy stuff you see in TV and movies,” said David Caballero, Disguise’s artistic director, who’s been doing theatrical makeup for three decades. “If you bring in a picture, we’ll figure out how to do it.”
Characters from “American Horror Story” are big this year, Caballero said, as are the Mad Hatter from “Alice in Wonderland” and Pennywise, the evil clown from “It.”
The tools of Caballero’s trade have remained largely the same over the years, he said, though alcohol-based paints are getting more popular because they stay in place for days.
“You can get made up once and hit up a few parties,” Caballero said.
Shopping local beats the pop-up costume shops for Halloweenies who want to bring their A-game to the costume party, Caballero said, because the quality of the costumes is higher and staff is more knowledgeable.
Thrift stores, too, can be a boon to partygoers on a budget or for those who want some inspiration, said Lloyd Lewis, president of ARC thrift stores.
Halloween is among the busiest times of year for ARC’s 27 locations along the Front Range, said Lewis.
“Not only do we carry the latest and greatest Halloween costume trends, but we’ve got all kinds of unique recycled clothing and items,” Lewis said.
Plus, Lewis said, shopping at ARC helps support people with developmental disabilities, many of whom are employed by the company.
Lewis said his son, who has Down syndrome, already put together his costume from an ARC store: Steve from “Blue’s Clues.”
Hitting the streets for treats
For the younger set, Halloween’s big appeal is, of course, candy.
However, going trick-or-treating door-to-door seems to be waning, said officer Rick Redmond, a spokesman for the Littleton Police Department.
“I couldn’t tell you why it seems to be fizzling out,” Redmond said. “When I was a kid, the streets were just crawling with kids. Now the folks I talk to say they see just a few kids each year.”
Fears about tainted or poisoned candy are largely baseless, Redmond said.
“Razor blades in apples and all that stuff are urban legends,” he said. “Still, it’s never a bad idea for parents to inspect their kids’ candy before they eat it.”
Redmond had some other tips for trick-or-treaters and their parents:
• Make sure you’re visible to drivers by using light-colored costumes or adding reflective tape to darker ones.
• Try to go in groups, with adult supervision.
• Cross streets at intersections instead of zig-zagging across the road.
• Consider doing face-painting instead of masks, which can limit a kid’s vision.
Lots of other activities are taking the place of door-to-door trick-or-treating, with an internet search pulling up dozens of “trunk-or-treat” events hosted by area churches and police departments, where kids can make their way through a cordoned-off parking lot for sweet treats.
Some events are more elaborate. The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, for example, will host their annual Trick or Treat Train event on Oct. 27 and 28.
Kids can ride railroad cars from the 1800s and make stops to get treats from train conductors in full costume, said Andrea Bestor, the museum’s guest services manager.
“It’s a great place to trick-or-treat in the daytime, without worrying about cars,” Bestor said. “The costumes are great, and there’s such excitement in the air. Everyone’s a kid on Halloween.”
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