They crop up like mushrooms in the night. They are Halloween stores that fill the vacant storefronts in strip malls all across Michigan and the United States. When they close, they might house a Christmas store for a few months, but then they remain vacant for the rest of the year.

Inside the Halloween store is anything and everything a Halloween aficionado would ever want to buy to celebrate the spooky holiday. You can get pints of fake blood, plastic skeletons for the yard and even inflatable ghosts that light up. 

There is everything from costume makeup that looks like the real thing (you too can look like a rotting zombie, with just a few layers of grease paint and this face prosthetic). Or silly Halloween costumes like David S. Pumpkins (Any questions?!).

For someone who wants to get all this stuff it’s a great resource and a way to “try it before you buy it.” It’s a lot of fun going through one of those stores, trying on masks and seeing what is out there for Halloween. That being said, if you were to look for one of these stores 20 years ago, they didn’t seem to exist. It’s just one aspect of the popular children’s holiday changing.

I think Halloween is just as big of a holiday for people than it’s ever been, in fact, it could be more popular than ever before, but as the times change so do Halloween. 

Another big thing that I have noticed that has changed since I was dressed as a comic book character, lugging around an orange plastic pumpkin asking for candy saying “trick or treat” to neighbors, was that there are just not many children out doing that activity these days. At least how we did it. This isn’t your mom and dad’s Halloween anymore, where you risked getting a rock in your candy bucket.

I do not get many trick or treaters at my house, and discussing it with family members, people in the community and others, they have reported that overall children out trick or treating on Halloween is down dramatically from years ago. But even though kids may not be pounding the pavement in areas of Iosco County trick or treat the old fashioned way, there are still hundreds of kids who dress up and go out to events on Halloween.

Halloween parties at businesses, churches, or “trunk or treat” events that are held in community parking areas, held by various organizations, garner many children.

At places like the AmericInn in Oscoda there are thousands of costumed kids who go through the hotel trick or treating from room to room as area businesses decorate and get rooms ready for the visiting children. That is just one of dozens of events in all over Iosco County that will be taking place this Halloween and are highlighted in a story appearing in print this week.

I don’t know why there has been a shift from children running through the streets on Halloween night going door to door to get candy, from them going to different events and parties. I am not a parent but I could see that some parents probably feel better knowing where their children are at all times on Halloween night.

And I do not think that the community isn’t interested in the holiday as in previous years. This is evident from all the things there are to do for children. If anything the community is more enthused about providing safe and fun environments for children on Halloween.

I think regardless of how the holiday that is a favorite of many changes over the years, there are some things that will never change. There is the thrill of deciding on a costume, picking out the pieces and transforming into someone else for a single night. There is the thrill of going out and seeing other people and what they decided to dress up as for the event. And of course there is the candy.

Nothing beats getting home after a busy night as a kid, cleaning off the grease makeup and unloading that plastic bucket to get a good look at the hard-earned goodies before heading to bed. Happy Halloween, Iosco County!