Creativity, ingenuity drive costume craze

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
Stella Mahar of Jasper, 4, held up her princess skirt as she raced in the children’s costume run hosted by Jasper High School’s Heath Occupations Students of America at the Jasper Riverwalk on Sunday. A princess costume is the most popular Halloween costume for children this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Herald Staff Writer

While it might be impossible to envision Halloween any other time of year — imagine carving jack-o’-lanterns from watermelons instead of pumpkins or soliciting popsicles instead of candied apples during trick-or-treating — the chilly weather and looming holiday season mean finding a practical Halloween costume can become a feat of juggling warmth, cost-efficiency, cleverness and ease.

For these reasons, many people utilize resale, rental and thrift stores to find pieces for original items to use for Halloween costumes. For frugal trick-or-treaters — and their parents — it doesn’t make sense to buy a costume at full price when it will be worn only one day of the year. Additionally, making a costume from old jackets and hats found in a rummage bin means the costume is probably warmer than whatever whisper-thin synthetic a bagged costume from a big-box store sports on its label.

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
Jasper High School senior Landyn Schneider held her niece Quinn Hedinger of Jasper, 5 months, as she painted Landyn’s face during the costume run event hosted by the JHS Heath Occupations Students of America at the Jasper Riverwalk on Sunday.

Vicki Wolf, owner of Fun-Time Costumes & Party on Main Street in Jasper, said she always sees a surge in business during October, one of the reasons she is revamping the store into an Easter and Christmas rental business only. According to Wolf, the Halloween rush means less time to focus on her true money-maker holiday, Christmas, when the shop rents out a plethora of Holiday costumes, including Santa and elves but also lesser-expected getups such as giant reindeer and other mascots.
“It just got too busy,” she said. “It’s a crazy time of year.”

Since August, Wolf has been liquidating all of her Halloween and theatrical items. Even with the many crazy costumes — bespangled Elvis jumpsuits, gangster getups, full-body Muppet costumes — hanging in her store, she said most people in the area tend to go for traditional outfits such as vampires, cowboys, pirates and ghosts. Because of the types of Halloween activities that are popular in Dubois County, whether they be trick-or-treating or daytime family parties, Wolf said her customers choose Halloween wardrobes that are conservative, warm and family-friendly, eschewing some of the wilder, more complicated and skimpy costumes that would be popular in a town with a larger nightlife scene.

Wolf said some costumers had raided her camouflage section to complete their “Duck Dynasty” costumes — a convenient way to get around the “cold” issue. She also said “Despicable Me” costumes are popular, with shoppers looking for a bald cap, false nose and trench coat to dress as the movie’s supervillain Gru, or overalls and goggles to dress as the villain’s yellow-skinned minions.

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
Reid Hopf of Jasper, 3, painted a pumpkin during the costume run event hosted by Jasper High School’s Heath Occupations Students of America at the Jasper Riverwalk on Sunday.

At the third annual Halloween on Central Green event in Jasper on Sunday evening, young trick-or-treaters stuck to the recurring themes of traditional with a dash of Hollywood influence, with most children favoring pirate and ghost costumes with the occasional Thomas the Tank Engine or Disney princess thrown into the mix. Dave Lesko, recreation director for the City of Jasper, said he has been seeing a new trend of parents dressing up in a group costume with their children. On Sunday, a mother and daughter, inspired by “Beauty and the Beast,” were outfitted as Lumiere the candlestick and Belle.

For thrift retailers, the trends might not be so easy to discern.

“Somebody was looking for a laundry basket (for a costume),” said Annette Zink, manager at the Salvation Army store on Newton Street in Jasper. “She didn’t tell me what it was for, and I didn’t ask her.”

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
Gabbi Blessinger of Celestine, 2, was dressed as a bee at the costume run event hosted by Jasper High School’s Heath Occupations Students of America at the Jasper Riverwalk on Sunday.

Zink said business has gone up in the last few weeks, a bump she attributes equally to the rapidly cooling weather­­ — people want inexpensive sweaters, and quickly ­— as well as people looting the store’s Halloween section, which included costumes and decorations, quickly liquidated.

Jamie Vest, a lead clerk at Jasper’s Goodwill Industries store in the Southgate Shopping Center, said Goodwill receives ready-made Halloween costumes and decorations, but because of the small selection, the items fly off the shelves no matter what they are. After that, it’s up to the shoppers to be creative.

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