What was once strictly in the purview of kids has been co-opted. Yes, the transformation of the holiday traditionally reserved for the young into a month-long party for adults is officially complete.
The “adultification” of the holiday has saturated all aspects of our culture. Adult Halloween parties and unique forms of self-expression are the new norm, with tricked-out front-yard displays, Oscar-worthy costumes, ghoulish games and décor that ranges from sophisticated to camp. Retail catalogs with glossy covers that hint at the many ways the pages inside can take Halloween over the top begin filling mailboxes in September. The desire to cut loose and have some scary fun is not only acceptable, but expected, making the indulgence into fantasy a multibillion dollar industry.
In 2012 CNN reported that an estimated 71.5% of Americans were planning to celebrate Halloween, up from 52.5% in 2005, citing the National Retail Federation (NRF); and that the trend has become a global phenomenon.
Halloween as an adult holiday began gaining traction back in the 1970s but really caught on in the 1980s when the retail market began catering to adults, bringing on the skimpy, the scary and the outlandish in costume options. And by the 2000’s, the trend permeated homes, schools, bars and restaurants, movie theaters and even the workplace. Here in Benicia, even the critters get in on the action with Benicia Main Street’s Canine and Critters Costume Contest, where awards and treats are handed out. Kids of all ages can also vie for the top costume prize; and the number of Ghost Walks are increased in October. The Haunted Depot is back this year, and downtown merchants go to great lengths to garner the coveted awards for the best scarecrows.
If you aren’t attending a party or hosting your own, live music can be found around town at local libation establishments that encourage patrons to come in costume. While kids do still trick or treat, or attend the wildly popular Trunk-or-Treat event (now at Benicia High School and a new location in Vallejo to be determined) adults have taken over Halloween.
Benicia Main Street’s annual downtown Scarecrow Contest has gone citywide! Over 100 custom-made scarecrows are scattered all over Benicia. Find as many as you can and vote for your favorites.