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Families say they'll stretch their budgets for Halloween costumes

POSTED: October 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Gabriel Sanchez tries on a bizarre costume which features a large mask, gloves, and bloody apron with knife and meat cleaver at Costume Corner.

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Though the economy may look dark and gloomy, many families won’t let it get in the way of their Halloween festivities this year.

Instead, many will just scale back or make their own costumes instead of getting their children the sometimes pricey Halloween costumes from stores.

"Jacob is going to be a football player. We didn’t have to buy anything," said Chestnut Mountain Elementary School kindergarten teacher Dee Dee Buffington of her 9-year-old’s costume.

She said her son is a big sports fan and will be wearing an NFL jersey he already owns and his baseball pants to create the look of one of his favorite football players, Tom Brady.

Donna Latimer, a paraprofessional at the elementary school, said she also will be making her kids’ costumes this year.

"We did as little as we could as far as having to buy things," Latimer said. "We bought him a wig, and he’s going to be a hippie. I’m going to try to do a tie-dye shirt on my own and just get some old sunglasses I’ve got."

But as many kids get older, they want more elaborate costumes from stores.

Shirley Butler, Parent Teacher Organization president at Chestnut Mountain Elementary, said she bought a Clone Trooper costume for her 7-year-old son, Jonathan, who is an avid "Star Wars" fan.

"Now they tend to want to do the more commercialized things," Butler said of her kids getting older.

Buffington’s daughter, Jenna, 6, also had a more specific costume in mind.

"Jenna, my little girl, is going to be Gabriella," Buffington said, referring to the popular character from Disney’s "High School Musical." She said she bought her a replica of the dress the character wears from a store.

Butler said many teachers at Chestnut Mountain will be borrowing costumes from other teachers who have older children.

"They actually share their costumes," Butler said.

Latimer said she has heard from a number of people that they will be scaling down their Halloween celebrations this year in order to spend more money later in the holiday season.

"I’ve heard a lot of folks saying they’re not going to be buying; they’re just going to be using some things they have at home, maybe painting faces with what they’ve got, just trying to cut back," Latimer said. "Maybe splurge a little more at Christmas."

Cindy Edwards, president of the Parent Teacher Association at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, said she and other families will take advantage of church and neighborhood Halloween festivities.

Edwards said she will take her family Wednesday to Pumpkinfest at Lakewood Baptist Church.

"It is a free event, and it’s a big community outreach. ... It’s just a parking lot full of free Halloween activities for the kids," Edwards said.

Party Shop’s Costume Corner on Shallowford Road has seen steady business this year despite tough financial times.

Neil Clark, whose family owns the business, said they have sold a lot of costumes this year, mainly to adults.

Kim Landry, who works at the store, said she sees people buy full costumes, but also sees many coming in looking for accessories only to complete an outfit they already may have.

"The main people who buy stuff here are women," Clark said. "We sell a lot of wigs and accessories," Clark said.

The best-selling costumes at Costume Corner sell for about $50, Clark said. Kids costumes sell for an average of $20 to $25.



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