Forget vampires and witches. In Columbia County, the big hit for Halloween costumes this year has been a movie starlet known for anything but a frightening look - Marilyn Monroe.
Sara Sheffield, 13, gets the attention of her brother, Michael, 11, at Fat Man's West. Costume choice can play a big role in child safety.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I don't know if there's a party going on, but that is unusual," said Ann McRae, who owns the Columbia County location of the holiday store Fat Man's Forest. Marilyn Monroe costumes, the most popular this year, have sold out at her store and at the Augusta location.
Otherwise, McRae said her store, which offers a wide variety of costumes for all ages, has seen superhero costumes - such as Spider-Man, Batman, Superman and Power Rangers - as the most popular among boys. Girls, she said, are choosing red-white-and-blue cheerleading outfits and princess costumes.
Costumes based on recent popular movies, such as characters from the movies Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean, have been popular teen and adult costume choices.
But beyond the aesthetics of a costume, Rene Hopkins, a coordinator of Safe Kids of East Central Georgia, said costume choice also can actually help a child stay safe while walking the streets for candy.
Halloween is the night when children are four times more likely to die as pedestrians, according to Safe Kids.
Hopkins recommended choosing light or bright-colored costumes and decorating costumes and treat bags with reflective tape and stickers to ensure they are seen at night.
"It's reflective tape," Hopkins said. "Just light colors are not enough. A car going 60 mph needs 260 feet to stop. Even little ghosts, who are white and very visible, can only be seen from 180 feet away.''
The Columbia County Board of Commissioners recently declined to change the date of trick-or-treating to Saturday. That leaves the holiday observance on Sunday, the day it falls on the calendar. Halloween fell on a Sunday in 1999, and commissioners voted that year to change it to Saturday.
The clock also changes from daylight savings time before Sunday. "Parents and trick-or-treaters need to remember that it will be darker earlier and plan accordingly," Hopkins said in a press release.
Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said the biggest way to prevent pedestrian accidents is to be seen. He also recommends wearing reflective clothing, carrying flashlights, avoiding masks that hamper the child's vision and walking in supervised groups.
Hopkins said children also should be taught not to dart into roadways and should be told to stop at curbs and intersections, to look both ways, not to cross between parked cars and to use sidewalks.
Morris agreed. He said the sheriff's office will once again be out in force to patrol the streets for Halloween on Sunday.
"I cannot recall the last incident involving a pedestrian being struck during Halloween," Morris said. But, he added, "Pedestrian safety is our biggest concern, more so than tainted candy ... You can't be too safe.''
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