MARQUETTE - A chill is in the air. Front porches have begun to fill with jack-o-lanterns and front yards with everything from scarecrows to fake tombstones. And Monday night streets will fill with trick-or-treaters out to have a ghoulishly good time collecting candy and showing off their costumes.
According to the National Retail Federation, 161 million people are set to celebrate Halloween this year, reveling in the chance to dress up.
"It's a fun holiday because anything goes and you can get away with it," said Gail Lessard, owner of the Halloween Superstore in Marquette. "I think the biggest thing with it is there's no age limit.
Austyn Rice, 12, of Marquette browses through a rack of costumes at the Goodwill store. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
"They're going to dress up and just have fun."
Both the Halloween Superstore and the variety of thrift shops in the area have been seeing big business in the weeks leading up to Halloween, with kids arriving to put together scary, fun or weird costumes.
Locally, popular costumes this year include witches and Rapunzel, from the recent Disney movie "Tangled." For boys, super heroes are a popular choice. Other costumes include characters from the game The Angry Birds, characters from the Harry Potter movies and books and the typical zombies, Lessard said.
"Most do (have an idea), but they can change their mind quite often," Lessard said of kids shopping for costumes.
Traditional costumes like witches also remain popular.
"I think the big one is the witch, adults or kids," said St. Vincent de Paul Marquette store assistant manager Stephanie Bordeaux. "The super hero is a good one with boys."
Whether shopping for a new or a slightly used costume, both Lessard and Bordeaux said often accessories can put important finishing touches on a costume.
"You might have the costume, but you might need the makeup," Lessard said. "They're not going to know you're Zorro without the mask."
With a selection of not only specific Halloween items, but also other items donated to their thrift shop, Bordeaux said there is plenty to choose from when putting together a costume.
"We can provide quite a bit," she said. "They might come in with an idea and then leave with something different."
According to the NRF, Americans are expected to spend $2.5 billion on Halloween costumes this year, a combined total for adults and children, as well as pets. For children, top costume choices are princess, witch, Spiderman, pirate, pumpkin, fairy, action/super hero, Batman, vampire, Disney princess, zombies and Star Wars characters. Adult top costume choices included witch, pirate, vampire, zombie, Batman, cat, vixen, ghost and nurse.
Pets also get into the Halloween spirit, thanks to their owners, with the top pet costumes including pumpkin, devil, hot dog, bee, cat, witch, pirate, dog and ghost.
Marquette 12-year-old Austyn Rice is planning on dressing as a chicken this year, a costume that was inspired by the finding of a chicken mask.
"We went to yard sales and my grandma had some stuff," Rice said of putting his costume together.
For Lessard, as well as Bordeaux and officials at the Marquette Goodwill store, Halloween is a year-round proposition. Lessard said she begins attending trade shows for next year's merchandise in January or February, with orders arriving in June and the store opening in Marquette in September.
For those at St. Vincent's or Goodwill, Halloween is one of the peak times of the year.
"That's our busiest time of year," said Goodwill store manager John Bender.
At St. Vincent's that's important considering the Christmas holidays that follow.
"It's big. It's our biggest month," said St. Vincent store Manager Sandy Petersen. "It helps us for Christmas. We can help the community at Christmas with (Halloween) being such a big time for us."
Peterson said St. Vincent's begins collecting donated Halloween items and stockpiling them on Nov. 1 to get ready for the next year.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.