Spooks and goblins will roam the streets on Halloween, but so will patriots.
The Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington changed more than the country’s mood. They changed Halloween retail.
Politicians are out, patriots are in.
Masks of politicians like Nixon, Reagan, Gingrich, Gore, Clinton and Bush have always been popular. Not this year.
“Giuliani’s not selling,” Paul Blum of Abracadabra costumes told the New York Post. “And presidents are usually really popular, but I don’t see Bush going out the door.”
Diana Crone, spokeswoman for BuyCostumes.com, told the Post, “People usually wear the political stuff in protest, but this year there’s been a total drop.”
Prior to the attacks, BuyCostumes.com was polling customers to see if they would wear masks of Rep. Gary Condit. Though respondents largely said yes, BuyCostumes.com canceled the mask, according to the Post.
“In the light of Sept. 11th, it was not appropriate to go on with it,” said Crone.
So what’s a popular costume this year? Firefighter, police officer, soldier, Uncle Sam, even construction worker.
BuyCostumes.com urges customers to “Show Your Patriotism” by purchasing costumes from its “Stars and Stripes” division. Ms. Liberty, Uncle Sam, a red “Union Suit” and more are available.
Sales of firefighter costumes at BuyCostumes.com have increased 162 percent since last year, according the Post.
Even the Nightmare Factory, an online costume and gift shop, is selling “Red, White and Blue Armbands and Patriotic Costumes!”
Gone with the politicians are the blood and gore. On Sept. 12, Party City’s 470 nationwide stores pulled fake body parts from their shelves, according to Associated Press.
“It didn’t make sense to stick those things in customers’ faces,” said Andy Bailen, Party City’s executive vice president of merchandising and marketing. The popular Halloween props are available only on request.
What’s not in yet is a bin Laden mask.
“Bin Laden is big,” Abracadabra’s Blum told the Post. “People keep coming in asking for the mask,” but he has none to offer.
Howard Beige of Rubie’s Costume Company in New York City told the Post the bin Laden mask is a bad idea. “It’s not the kind of humor people would appreciate.”
Cliff Vaughn is BCE’s associate director.