Haunted and spooky

College students might be a little too old for trick-or-treating, but regardless of age no one can ever be too old for Halloween. Plans may no longer involve ringing doorbells and collecting pillowcases full of candy, but a great costume is still a must. The time has passed when a cheap plastic costume of a favorite television character would suffice. The days of counting on mom to make a costume are also over. Costume shops around D.C. are there to fill that void.

Backstage, Inc. is one costume shop in the District that offers a large variety of costumes and supplies to make the perfect costume. Packaged costumes cover the walls from floor to ceiling, ranging in styles from Roman soldiers to the Cat in the Hat.

Along with the traditional scary masks, Backstage sells ones of famous politicians, the Grinch and Star Wars characters. Wigs of all different hair types and colors are displayed, along with make-up, hair color and fake eyelashes. For those who want to create their own costume, there are accessories such as crowns, plastic clown shoes and wings.

Costumes with a 70s theme have been popular for men and women for the past few years. Guys like the big Afro wigs and hippie costumes, according to store manager Sandro Duraes. Other popular costumes include Austin Powers costumes – chest wigs and bad teeth for men and go-go-girl threads, Felicity Shagwell outfits and fem-bot costumes for women, he said.

Gladiators are big with guys this year because of the movie, Duraes said.

Duraes said sexy is also always in, including costumes of flappers, mistresses of the night and deluxe little red riding hood costume packages with a shiny red outfit with a short skirt. Wigs are popular with college women, and headpieces with feathers and boas have also sold quickly for the Vegas-showgirl look, he said.

Backstage also rents a plethora of costumes for more serious Halloween lovers, Duraes said. Masqueraders can rent costumes for a day or the whole weekend. Backstage’s most popular rentals are Saturday Night Live characters, such as Mary Katherine Gallagher and Hanz and Franz. Most of the good ones are gone by the end of the third week of October, Duraes said.

Packaged costumes cost $29 to $90, but most sell for $50 to $60. Rentals go for as much as $175, but cost $45 to $75 on average.

The Paper Store located in Georgetown also offers a mix of costumes and props for Halloween enthusiasts. The Halloween party supply store has more than 14,000 costumes featuring period ensembles. Most outfits are for rent only.

For Halloween enthusiasts too busy or lazy to go shopping for a costume, there is always the internet. Spencergifts.com carries many of the same packaged costume items as the stores. Most are on sale and can be delivered in five to seven days or three to four days by express shipping.

Some students said the internet offers the easiest solution to their costume needs.

I haven’t actually decided on a costume yet, but I think shopping online is the best way to go, sophomore Arezoo Riahi said. You can see what’s popular this year and don’t even have to leave your room.

Once in costume there are a variety of things to do and to see. It has become a yearly tradition for some students to walk to Georgetown, where hundreds of people in costume take to the streets to celebrate the holiday.

People go crazy, sophomore Carly Levin said. It’s like a big party in the streets. Even if you can’t go to the bars, it’s fun to just dress up and be a part of.

More traditional Halloween activities include trick-or-treating on Embassy Row and going to haunted houses.

The Alexandria Jaycees 14th Annual Haunted House, at 3155 Duke Street in Alexandria, Va., centers on a tour of backstage Horrorwood. The house showcases replicas of sets for horror movies, including Psycho, Little Shop of Horrors and Pet Cemetery.

On Halloween night, the Decatur House, located at 748 Jackson Place, NW, near the White House, offers a presentation on the paranormal. Real investigators called the Ghosthunters of Baltimore will take visitors through the house on an search for spirits and ghosts.

For those looking for a place to party, LuLu’s Mardi Gras Club will host its fourth-annual Boogie Nightmare on Halloween night. The club offers a best costume contest with prizes and giveaways. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door.

Other clubs having special events for Halloween include the Black Cat, which will host a Masquerade Ball on Oct. 31st. The ball features swing band Peaches O’Dell and her orchestra. The club Glow will feature a battle of the DJ’s on Oct 28th called Gloween. Club Nation will host Damnation Velvet Halloween on Sat. Oct. 28th.

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