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Local stores dress the part for Halloween

"It’s easy to tell that Halloween is at hand. There is an entire aisle at the local variety store filled top to bottom on both sides with candy and other trick-or-treatables for any and all little monsters that may come calling. You’ll still find old favorites such as Tootsie-Pops and midget Snickers bars, but these days there are also more exotic sweet tooth-gratifiers like “Ice” chewing gum and Pecan Delights.It’s the same in other stores as well, where bodiless, battery-powered heads, beasties and even boxes shriek, cackle and sing as you pass; while down another aisle a smiling, stuffed black cat shakes, giggles and yowls, “Happy Halloween!”It’s the only time of year when bright orange Christmas lights and glow-in-the-dark eyeballs are big sellers and the only time you’ll see grown men and women trying on frizzy, purple wigs and fuzzy bee antennae right out in public.This year, the latest advances in latex engineering have created some of the most realistic and gruesome masks imaginable. Local stores have angry clowns, grizzled old geezers and even an invisible man mask that features no face at all. Costumes reflect some of the latest crazes, from Powderpuff Girls and X-Men to rock stars and politicians. But a lot of kids appear to be sticking to the classics.“I’m going to be a bone man,” said three-year-old Alexander Portillo about his skeleton costume. “I’m going to be soooooo scary.” Though his mind seemed to be made up, Portillo was still giving a long look at all the other possibilities along a Big K-Mart aisle Wednesday afternoon. He plans to get a few uses out of his costume this year by wearing it to school, to a haunted house and out trick-or-treating.Down the next aisle a group of four Coupeville Elementary School girlfriends giggled gleefully over just about every mask, wig and costume. In the end, though, they all decided to go with reliable old standards. For Emily Marti it’s the old-fashioned school girl look with braided hair. Her friend KeriAnne Wright hadn’t firmed up her choice of disguise but said it was down to either a cowgirl or Pippi Longstocking.Classmate Megan Monroe was sure. Her choice? A wolf — a Coupeville wolf of course. Her little sister Brooke chose to be a mouse. Why?“Because my mom said so,” she responded. Her mom, Heidi Monroe, said she finally drew a line in the costume-choosing sand because Brooke was changing her mind every 10 minutes.“I’m going as a mouse too,” Heidi said. The kids plan to attend a carnival in Coupeville, the Screambank Farm and go trick-or-treating in their neighborhood.Cute mouse costumes were about as far as you can get from what 10-year-old Jesse Cohen was looking for.“I want something ugly,” he said as he scanned masks with gashed temples and flashing fangs. Cohen and his father had come to Oak Harbor from Anacortes where they said Halloween shopping choices weren’t as good. After rejecting several styles, Cohen finally picked out a greyish ghoul with black cape and gaping mouth. It fit him pretty well but to get the full effect, he had to get his dad to model it. As ghastly as the head was atop his dad’s shoulders, Cohen was particularly taken by a small rectangular tag reading, “Glows In The Dark” strategically clipped inside the hobgoblin’s open mouth.“I think I’ll keep the tag on,” he said.For Cohen and the other kids the Halloween aisles provided more than enough scary stuff. But for many adults, the scariest images of all were just three aisles down. That’s where Christmas decorations were already lining the shelves. "

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