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Halloween is a holiday to let your imagination roam
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Trick-or-treating tips
Before your child sets out for the candy loot, here are some tips to keep in mind for a safe and fun evening.

  • Children should always be supervised by an adult while trick-or-treating.
  • Only allow children to eat candy that is wrapped — never give candy to a child if the wrapper has been opened or is torn.
  • Never let children go into someone’s house or car, even if invited. Explain your reasons why ahead of time so children are prepared to say "no" if asked.
  • Always stay in well-lit areas. Go to well-lit houses and always go to the front door.
  • Make sure your children are carrying a flashlight or glow stick, or make sure there is reflective tape on costumes.

Source: American Humane Association

Every spring, as Neil Clark looks over catalogs of Halloween costumes and supplies, his mind starts to wander.

Specifically, he sees costumes that would be fun for Halloween — this year he had his eye on a high-quality vampire outfit — but there’s a catch.

Because Clark owns a costume store, he can’t keep his own special outfit in the back, hoping a customer won’t see it. It’s all for sale or for rent, and how can he turn down a paying customer?

"Well, the costume I wanted I sold. I kind of have to go with what’s left," said Clark, owner of The Party Shop/Costume Corner in Gainesville. "If I had to pick, I guess I would say I’m still up in the air between doing — we have a really good Dracula costume — that, or maybe a werewolf."

But whatever Clark ends up picking for himself, he will be one of thousands of costume-clad Northeast Georgians taking to the streets on Saturday for trick-or-treating or Halloween parties.

It is a holiday that lets you exercise your brain, said local photographer Fox Gradin, who said she encourages her son to think of different characters he might want to portray. Her daughter, 1, is still too young to realize the joys of dressing up, but for her son, 6, the fun is just starting.

"I would encourage parents to listen to their children and help them come up with their own idea," said Gradin, who is dressing her baby daughter up as a burrito and herself as a Moe’s worker. "I think that TV, it gives kids every idea that it wants them to have, so the creativity of coming up with your own costume, like I did when I was little, is kind of lost.

"So, I would encourage people to pull from history, tell kids stories of gladiators and fairy tales, Alice in Wonderland. ... Encourage them to go with their own character."

For example, does your child want to dress as a superhero? Instead of picking one that already exists, ask them what their super power might be.

Then, build the costume from matching sweatpants and sweatshirt, because it will keep them warm and allow for easy movement.

Clark said superhero costumes — specifically Batman and Superman — are popular this year, along with scary Draculas, fueled by the recent "Twilight" book and movie craze.

And lots of makeup.

"Just this morning someone came in who was doing the Tin Man, and someone came in doing C-3PO," Clark said. "And the Tin Man drove all the way from Athens because he couldn’t find any silver paint anywhere."

Clark said others create costumes using a rock star or biker theme, using some clothes they might already have and topping it off with a black wig, nail polish and some temporary tattoos.

"And flappers are really big this year," he said. "I’ve actually sold a good bit of flapper stuff."

But no matter what you cobble together — for either yourself or your little one who might be trick-or-treating this weekend — keep in mind that the fun of the holiday is in the escape.

Gradin cautioned parents to not get caught up in making a child’s costume too involved. As long as they feel they are their own made-up character, it will work.

When her son was a toddler, Gradin said she made a toucan costume out of felt feathers glued to a matching red sweat suit. A yellow felt "beak" glued to the hoodie completed the look.

"The costume was really amazing because he could spread his wings and he could pretend he was flying," she said. "It doesn’t have to look like it does on TV. As long as they transform themselves — which is the real spirit of Halloween — if they transform themselves for a couple hours, you’ve got a successful costume."