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     Halloween: “Some people are born for Halloween, and some are just counting the days until Christmas.” – Author Stephen Graham Jones.

Stepping outside for a last look at the evening sky, the edge of my eye glimpsed a shadow on the far side of the lawn.

As I peered into the darkness, the dim outline took on the unsettling shape of an oblong – dare I say it? – body bag.

With Halloween just days away, I wondered if my imagination was getting the better of me. After all, it was that night at dinner that I asked my wife if she had seen my Halloween mask.

“Which one?” she replied, in a knowing tone.

When it comes to All Hallows Eve, I’m the poster child for the boy who grew old but never grew up.

Even after all these years, Halloween brings a tingling, an anticipation similar to climbing onto a roller coaster.

And I’m not alone.

From what I read, Halloween trails only Christmas as a commercial holiday.

Difficult to believe, I know, but according to the National Retail Federation, 148 million Americans will celebrate, or at least take part in, Halloween.

It amounts to a windfall for retailers because when the dollars are tallied for costumes, masks, outdoor displays and other decorations, the total comes to a staggering $1.6 billion.

The NRF, which gathers data on major holiday spending, also drills down into how consumers are spending their dollars. For example, if you think Halloween is just for kids, think again. Men will shell out $96 on average for costumes and women, $77.  Again, according to the NRF, the most popular costumes are a witch and a Batman character. Vampires and Marvel superheroes also rank high. I figured a President Trump mask would be popular, as well, but apparently not.

A survey of my grandkids tells me what to expect on Tuesday night. It’s an entertaining lineup: Captain America, a vampire, a skeleton cop, an Army soldier, Scooby Doo, a princess, the Grim Reaper, a mystery man, and Oompa Loompa.

But I digress.

The oblong shape near the curb called for closer inspection, and so I walked cautiously toward it. Suddenly, as I stooped over the figure, it exploded upward, leaves flying like a confetti bomb. Then, across the yard, other figures popped up, and took flight from the scene.

Just kids, playing a game of whoever could stay under the leaf piles longest wins the prize.

Halloween tricks. They go with the candy and the costumes.

Oct. 25, 2017