Last week, when the temperature dropped and everyone else was complaining, I was elated. Though I’d forgotten to wash the comforter and hadn’t scheduled my furnace check yet, I was ready to trade in my tank tops for my flannel shirts, make hot tea instead of iced for the first time in months and enjoy some cooler weather.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking forward to winter, but fall is my favorite season. The smells! The leaves crunching under your feet! Pumpkins at the Farmers Market! Jogging in Forest Home Cemetery! (Okay, I’m probably the only one who does that.) And, best of all, Halloween!
Back in August when I saw that a Spirit Halloween store was opening on Harlem, where Blockbuster used to be, I squealed in delight and nearly rear-ended the car in front of me. I may be one of those people who gets annoyed when Walgreens puts out the Christmas stuff months in advance, but Halloween is different. I’ll take candy, costumes, and spooky stuff over Christmas any day. Yep, even over presents.
When I was a kid, we didn’t have a big budget for costumes, but it’s amazing what you can do with cardboard when you’re creative. I was a Queen of Hearts playing card in 4th grade, a television in 5th grade and a die (as in one of a pair of dice) in 6th grade. Each costume was built with either cardboard boxes or poster board.
To this day, stores like Spirit Halloween aren’t my go-to place for costumes – just for inspiration. Last year, since I knew I’d be sporting my costume while I worked the Beacon’s Halloween party, I decided to be a tavern wench. I scoped out barmaid costumes at the various stores, bought a wig at one, but then I hit up the Goodwill on Harlem and got the rest of my outfit for under 10 bucks.
I don’t know what I’m going to be this year; I’ve always wanted to dress up as Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks as we first see her: dead, blue-lipped, and wrapped in plastic. (C’mon, this really shouldn’t shock you after I admitted that I go jogging in cemeteries.) However, since I will once again be working the Beacon Halloween party -Saturday, Oct. 29, mark your calendars! – I need something I can bartend in. I suppose I’ll hit the new Spirit store for ideas, though I’ll probably walk out with a bunch of decorations for my house instead of a costume.
I always loved this house two blocks down from me when I was growing up in Oak Park because the owners went all out on Halloween. They had tombstones, a scarecrow in an electric chair, a body hanging from their tree and a bubbling witch’s pot that spewed real smoke.
I’ve never had the money to take advantage of my prominent location on Desplaines and create something like that, but last year I did attempt to add a little scare factor to my front yard, for the first time. I put up a few tombstones in my garden and covered the bushes and my decaying sunflowers with cobwebs. Though it wasn’t worthy of entering the park district’s annual contest, I was pleased with the results, nonetheless. My decorations survived this summer’s basement flooding, so I’ll see what I can find at our new Halloween store to take them to the next level.
It’s not too early to get started on your costume and deck out your house. There are only 40 days left until Halloween, so let’s get as much spookiness out of them as we can!
Stephanie is the author of “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and “Ballads of Suburbia.” She’s a proud Forest Parker who holds a master’s in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site www.stephaniekuehnert.com.