Townsman reporter Paul Rodgers testing out his new costume at a Lethbridge Halloween megastore. Claire Rodgers photo.

OPINION: New Kootenay resident seeks Halloween spirit

Paul Rodgers

Halloween has always been something I look forward to. I have fond memories of trick or treating around the neighbourhood, sometimes with our Irish Terrier dressed as a turkey or an airline pilot accompanying us siblings, as we assessed which house had the best decorations — and were the most lucrative, sweet-wise.

There was a bit of a shoulder season between that point in life where you’re a couple years beyond what is generally deemed appropriate for lurking around asking your neighbours for candy, and when you’re legal age to go to or, better yet, host raucous Halloween parties.

My first foray into DJing actually began because the house I was sharing with some friends in southwest Calgary was ideal for hosting parties. I bought turntables and speakers about ten days before we hosted “Zombie Rednecks” — our 2010 Halloween bash which became somewhat of a legendary affair amongst our friend group.

Now 27, I still enjoy and eagerly await the Halloween season. I was in Lethbridge this past weekend to spend Thanksgiving with my family there and, just before heading home, stopped in at the Halloween megastore with a couple of my sisters and their daughters.

Much like Christmas, if the novelty of a season begins to wane, it can always be reanimated by experiencing it with a young person — seeing how excited they are about their costume choice, or how startled they get by the various screaming, mechanical skeletons or werewolves is enough to warm any blackened heart. Or blacken any warmed heart, depending on your disposition.

So despite the guilt I felt from having to shell out an exorbitant amount ($80) for my costume this year (the dancing pumpkin man, by far my most-used GIF), I was pleased with my purchase for two main reasons, other than the simple fact that it’s a hilarious costume and I generally like to go for cheap laughs rather than a high spook-factor.

First off, as a regular attendee of electronic music festivals, I know that having a black morph suit and a rubber jack-o’-lantern mask isn’t a bad thing; they can and will be used again in non-Halloween settings.

Secondly, I am quite pleased I purchased a costume period before returning home because as I discovered shortly before beginning this little rant, options for costume shopping here in Cranbrook are few and far between.

I sat at my desk on the first day back from a long weekend and, mostly pleased with my costume idea and execution, set out to write a story on all things Halloween in the East Kootenay: find out what events are happening when, but more importantly, where does one go to buy a costume. And what are people going as?

Listening to some Misfits classics like “Halloween” and “Skulls,” to set the mood, I got to work only to quickly discover some pretty slim pickins through a Google search. The fact that Walmart is evidently the only option for costume shopping was reinforced by my associates. Lots of people make their costumes, they told me.

Cool! I’m all for crafting, despite being objectively awful at it personally. My girlfriend made us some pretty amazing Futurama costumes a couple years ago (Zoidberg and Leela), for very little cost. My zebra mask, initially purchased with combination priest robes, has seen a lot of use/abuse since fate brought us together in 2012.

However, to be honest I was a little taken aback and disappointed with this void in Halloween shopping destinations. While the annual pop-up megastores carry poorly-made, overpriced and often clichéd options, they are still generally entertaining locations for Samhain enthusiasts. Even Value Villages tend to have better ensemble selections than Walmarts.

And so I write this lament, purely with the intent of learning a little bit about how the good people of Cranbrook feel about and celebrate Halloween. I can’t be the only, fully grown, although perhaps slightly immature adult person who is passionate about it. There are some big events coming up in Cranbrook and Kimberley for instance. So lets open up a dialogue!

Do you celebrate Halloween, and if so how? What are some of your traditions? Favourite Halloween movies? Where do you go to buy your costumes? Do you make your costumes? What are you going as? Do you feel as though Cranbrook should have more options for costume shopping in October?

Feel free to let me know at paul.rodgers@cranbrooktownsman.com as I will be doing some follow up stories to this and would love some input!