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In search of the perfect costume

October 23, 2011
By JOHANNA BOYLE ( , The Mining Journal

I achieved a major milestone this past weekend - my costume for Halloween 2011 has been secured.

I don't remember ever not being excited for Halloween, and not just because of the act of marching around the neighborhood and getting candy from the neighbors. Most of my trick or treat years were spent living in a fairly spread out country neighborhood where the neighbors bought a bag of candy for myself and my sister because they knew we'd be the only ones coming around.

The true glory of Halloween for me was the costume.

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In a process that would begin weeks, if not months, before Oct. 31., I would pore over stacks of Halloween decorating and costume books searching for the perfect costume idea. The perfect costume had to be something unique, not something anyone else would be wearing. The point of Halloween is to spend a few radiant minutes at each house you visit with your costume being admired by whoever answers the door, isn't it? If they happen to want to be handing out full-size candy bars at the same time, that's fine, too.

And there was to be no repeating of costumes from year to year. That's kind of like ordering the same thing as someone else at your table in a restaurant - you can, but really, what's the fun in that?

Deep in my Halloween past are memories of me dressing up as a Southern belle - complete with a home-made hoop skirt, a clown, Laura Ingalls Wilder, a headless ghost, an elf, a sandwich, a chef, a witch. Last year I tried out my own first sewing project and was a Musketeer.

Mom always helped, of course, usually stitching me something that would be added to our "dress up" box.

Later in elementary school, though, construction of the costume fell more to me. Instead of just providing the idea, I was doing it myself. Usually that meant the more papier mache the better.

This year, not having the time to complete my elaborate costume choosing/making ritual, I decided to hit up the Goodwill store in Marquette, determined not to leave without some sort of costume after my sister had the inspiration of the two of us dressing as old ladies.

We glanced through the "costume selection," the stuff that comes pre packaged as obviously being a candy corn costume or a vampire, but having never owned a pre-made Halloween costume in my life, I decided to go for the challenge and headed out into the rest of the store.

There in the dress section of the store, I found it - a hideous green and black polyester pleated dress, complete with shoulder pads that would look more at home on a football player. That plus a pair of purple slip on shoes and some white hair spray that will probably kill a few brain cells as soon as I apply it and I'm just about old lady-fied. I still need to rustle up some appropriate glasses and gaudy jewelry, but I believe I am well on my way to yet another successful Halloween.

Even though I wish I could still trick or treat, I'll restrain myself to handing out candy to kids on the 31st and having a costumed pumpkin carving party with some friends.

Once the doorbell stops ringing, however, my real favorite part of Halloween hits. Halloween isn't just one holiday. It's the gateway holiday to my favorite time of year, which stretches across November and December to New Year's. All my favorite holidays come right after another along with snow (hopefully) and the start of a new year.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is



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