xx Wednesday, October 29, 1997

Who says Halloween's just for kids?

By JUDY CREIGHTON -- Canadian Press

Adults only ... Wearing custumes to go trick or treating or partying this Halloween are four adults in Ancaster, Ont. Wearing the costumes are Cathy Dauber (alien), Claudia Hoekert (mother), Marlon Palmer (M&M chocolate candy) and Jason Davey (Grim Reaper). (CP PHOTO)
 TORONTO -- As you dole out treats this Halloween, don't be alarmed to find larger-than-usual costumed creatures at the door. But it's not necessary to fill their goodie bags -- they're just adults out for a fun night.

 More and more baby boomer parents who are eager to spend quality time with their children are participating in Halloween, says Michael Shneer, president of Party City Ltd., a countrywide party super store catering to celebrations of every kind.

 Adult dress-up parties are extremely common, especially at Halloween, says party event planner Karen Garscadden, whose Thornhill, Ont.-based company Up and Coming Events has seen a rise in theme parties.

 Says Shneer:"I think as societal pressures grow because of job-related activities and life becomes more complex, Halloween is the one time of the year where people can abandon who they are and escape into being someone different through dressing up and virtually letting their hair down."

 Garscadden says horror movies have a definite influence on adult Halloween costumes and cites The Rocky Horror Picture Show as an example.

 "I've seen couples dress up as the Addams family, Dracula and Frankenstein -- the classics."

 Shneer says that his store often sells complete costume sets to parents and their children for the Halloween event.

 "Last year we saw families dress up as M & M candies," or as hamburgers, french fries and shakes.

 Donna Mahon, manager of a Party City store in surburban Ancaster, Ont., west of Hamilton, says that this year's favourite choices for adult costumes come from the movie Scream. "Every time we get supplies in, they're gone," she says.

 Also big for adults are costumes reminiscent of the '50s and '60s.

 "A lot of the boomers' adult children want to capture their parents' youth so they'll dress up as hippies," Mahon says.

 For home parties, there are couple costumes such as Fred and Wilma Flintstone and Dorothy and the Scarecrow, Shneer says.

 Expect to see plenty of Barbie dolls on the doorstep this Halloween, says Mahon, because little girls are keen to emulate their favourite toy by dressing up in any number of her outfits.

 Also look out for Winnie the Pooh, 101 Dalmatians, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, the Grim Reaper, Batman and Spiderman as well as Hercules, Pocahontas and Mulan.

 Shneer says that not only are adults enjoying Halloween at their own parties, but they are organizing neighbourhood and community functions with their children.

 "It's going the same way as New Year's Eve did a few years ago," he says. "Tired of adult-only parties with excessive drinking, many families have chosen the First Night option, which has families enjoying cultural events together while seeing in the New Year in many communities across Canada."

 Shneer believes that the approach to Halloween is a little different in that it's a chance for adults and children to decorate the house inside and out with spooky, gruesome characters, dress up together and "have a lot of fun."