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Halloween traditions are a’changin

By Matthew Blair

Becky Cocek shows off her homemade costumes at home in Trenton Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Matthew Blair [1]

Becky Cocek shows off her homemade costumes at home in Trenton Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Matthew Blair

BELLEVILLE – There is a saying that old habits die hard. Halloween is one tradition that may become a thing of the past.

While most people over the age of 16 have grown out of trick-or-treating, a new trend has risen. It’s not hard to find young adults – and even older ones – either throwing a party or going to one.

For many of them, going out and getting free candy has been replaced by a night of drunken memories and dressing up in sexy revealing costumes. If you go to any costume store, good chunks of the costume selection are things such as “sexy nurse” or “sexy maid” outfits.

One Trenton resident is not joining the majority.

“I wore a sexy Catwoman costume in high school and got weird looks,” Becky Cocek said. “After that I decided I wasn’t going to wear something like that again.”

Cocek, who’s 23, said she still enjoys dressing up for the sake of the Halloween tradition.

“I actually make all my own costumes. I love the thrill of knowing I’m walking around in something I did myself. It takes awhile but it’s definitely worth it for me. “

Cocek said she has seen a rise in people her age using Halloween as an excuse to dress in revealing clothing.

“I go to parties, but I don’t go to get drunk or dress in something revealing to have fun for Halloween. Halloween is my favourite time of year. It’s the one night you can dress up and be somebody else, like your favourite superhero. I just don’t see the thrill in dressing up slutty or, in most cases for girls my age, not really wearing anything.”

Halloween City, a store that operates seasonal once a year in vacant spaces, opened up for the first time in Belleville this year. Store staff say many adults were in buying costumes.

“This is my first time at a Halloween store, and I’m surprised by how many adults are coming in and buying costumes for adult parties and adult themes,” said manager Paul Stone.

“Teenage females tend to be more of our customer than males. I would say three out of four of our customers are young girls. “
Another Halloween tradition that seems to be fading is decorating houses to look spooky and scary. A drive through several Belleville and Trenton neighbourhoods this week revealed that only a few houses had decorations.

“We see less kids every year,” aid Jim Hutton, who lives in Belleville. “It’s just not worth it to put the time and effort anymore.”

A factor that has also had an impact on Halloween tradition is concern over the health of children. There were news reports this week about a North Dakota woman who planned to hand out letters instead of candy to children she considered obese. The letters, meant for the children’s parents, said it was irresponsible for them to let their overweight children consume large amounts of sugar.

And a group of mothers in the Ottawa area said they would hand out fruit cups and cheese strings instead of chocolate and sugar. Much of the reaction was negative.

“It’s once a year, for the love of God. These people are ridiculous,” said one typical comment when the story was posted online.

According to Statistics Canada, $360.9 million worth of candy, confectionery and snack foods was sold at large retailers in October 2012. The average for every other month of the year, except December, was $282.4 million. The December total was $448.5 million.