I know I say this a lot (and I’m saying it more every year), but I can’t even believe it’s here already. Halloween. The raison d’etre. That extra special 1/6th of the year where everything in my life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more vital, a LOT more orange.
There’s just something about this whole Halloween thing that reaches all the way down to the deepest part of my core and tweaks my happiness node. You could say this entire website is my attempt to figure out what that is, and obviously it’s not just one thing. It’s all of it. It’s the juxtaposition of macabre and jovial, and of youth and adulthood. Death putting a mirror up to life, making us all remember how precious it is. It’s the official beginning of the holiday season – the time when almost everybody, if they’re so inclined, gets to experience that feeling of life being generally better and more fun for a couple months.
It occurred to me that, as the preparation for what I consider “Halloween” has gotten more and more involved year after year, my longstanding rule of the Halloween season starting on September 1st (hence Phase I) is gradually being broken. It’s part lack of willpower and part necessity to begin planning operations early enough. At the same time, I’m always wary of burnout, and recognize the importance of delayed gratification in keeping Halloween sacred to me. Either way, I think a new phase is in order.
Henceforth, all Halloween-related activity taking place before September 1st will be considered Phase Ø operations. That is all.
Back to the subject at hand, I inaugurated Halloween 2014 Phase I with this year’s first trip to Spirit Halloween. Oooooh baby.
I was shocked – SHOCKED – that the majority of the Spirit stores in the Phoenix area were already open and running days before September even began. I’m no stranger to wandering into a Spirit Halloween on a weekday eve, having learned that it was the first to open close to my home, and find employees still unpacking boxes of merchandise and setting up the animatronic displays. But this store was fully operational! Nostalgia washed over me as plenty of the old Spirit standbys croaked away their ghoulish routines as I stepped on their footpads (no doubt already annoying the folks who work there and have to hear it all hundreds of times a day). There were also a number of excellent-looking new additions.
Of course, they continue to capitalize on the Zombie baby thing – adding even more grotesque abominations. Look at that sewn together double baby. I’d love to work in product development for this company, coming up with ideas like this and wondering which ones will actually be approved.
They’ve gone the extra mile with their huge, overpriced animatronics as well. I was particularly fond of the zombie torso lurching out of an open toilet and the monster-farmer thing holding a severed head and making macabre agricultural puns.
I also wandered over to Michael’s, knowing that their Halloween displays would already be in full swing, and likely have been for several weeks. I didn’t spend much time in there. They had their normal assortment of overpriced bric-a-brac and grandma-centric decorative pieces. To give you an idea of the pricing of Michael’s Halloween decorations, I saw items there I had just seen at Spirit that cost more. More expensive than Spirit Halloween. Let that sink in.
If you follow i_remember_halloween on Instagram (and you should), you saw that on last week’s grocery shopping trip I was astonished to find that Fry’s Marketplace already had their entire Halloween section in full glory.
I’m talkin’ pose & stay skeletons, plastic skulls, orange and purple lights, costumes, spooky tableware, and of course the ever-present enormous bags of trick or treat candy. They even had a few slightly rednecky Halloween novelty T-shirts. Nice job, Fry’s.
I can’t speak for the progress of other mainstays like Target, Walgreens, Walmart, and CVS, as I’m fairly certain none of them have jumped in yet, but overall I’m getting a sense this year that the country (or at least the state of Arizona) is diving into Halloween slightly earlier than normal this year. Provided more stores aren’t planning to pull a Costco and start replacing all this Halloween stuff with Christmas before October is even over, this can only mean good things. Could it be because Halloween falls on a Friday this year, and is therefore likely to be a bigger deal? Wonder of wonders…
Well, all that’s left for tonight is to crack open a Shipyard Pumpkinhead and begin the traditional first viewing of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I may have jumped the gun on celebrating Halloween in almost every conceivable way this year, but some traditions still hold strong…
Happy Halloween, friends.