Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Story of the Day-Halloween

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Halloween, or Hallowe'en, is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, Halloween festivals, bonfires, costume parties, visiting "haunted houses", carving jack-o-lanterns, and viewing horror films. Halloween originated from the Pagan festival Samhain, celebrated among the Celts of Ireland and Great Britain[citation needed]. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century. Halloween is now celebrated in several parts of the western world, most commonly in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom and occasionally in parts of Australia and New Zealand.

The term Halloween (and its alternative rendering Hallowe'en) is shortened from All-hallow-even, as it is the eve of "All Hallows' Day",[1] also which is now known as All Saints' Day.

Many European cultural traditions, in particular Celtic cultures, hold that Halloween is one of the liminal times of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world, and when magic is most potent (according to, for example, Catalan mythology about witches and Irish tales of the SĂ­dhe).

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Are you wondering why pint-sized ghouls and goblins are wandering the streets and ringing strangers' doorbells; why your significant other is pestering you to dress up as Sonny to her Cher at a masquerade ball; why goosebumps and shivers are in the air; and why chocolates seem to come only in miniature sizes this time of year? Well, when digging for the roots of the modern Halloween, there are three words to keep in mind:

Samhain. The Celts of modern-day Ireland and the UK two and a half millennia ago braced themselves for winter with this festival, which is pronounced "sowen," literally means "summer's end" and falls on November 1. It heralds the beginning of the dark, cold half of the year. (Its counterpart was Beltane, which kicked off the warm, light half of the year on May 1.) The harvest was gathered in to protect against the wintry blast of the faeries' breath, and Samhain was an occasion for thanksgiving, sacrifices, divination and prayers. In each home the hearth-fire was extinguished the night before and relit on Samhain from the central bonfires of the priestly Druids.

Pomona. She is the Roman goddess of fruit trees and the symbol of abundance. There was a festival dedicated to her worship at the end of autumn, around the time of the big harvest. When the Romans arrived in Britain, in the first century, they melded their customs with those of the Celts whom they conquered.

Feralia. This is the ancient Roman festival of the dead, which was held on February 21 with prayers and sacrifices on behalf of the deceased. The customs of this day were also blended by the Romans with those of Samhain. Feralia was superseded in the Christian Church by All Saints Day, also known as All Hallow's Day or Hallowmas, observed on May 13. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III changed the date to November 1 (though it is still marked in springtime, on the Sunday after Pentecost, by the Eastern Orthodox Church). All Saint's Day was followed by All Soul's Day, established by Saint Odilo of Cluny on November 2 to remember the souls awaiting release from Purgatory. Halloween is a contraction for "Hallow's even" — the evening of All Hallow's Day, i.e., October 31.

The customs that are the modern face of Halloween are deeply rooted in the mists of history as well:

Jack-o'-lantern. Originally a turnip, this carved vegetable with a candle inside was used by a poor Irish soul named Jack to light his way as he wandered for eternity, denied entrance to both Heaven and Hell — Heaven because of his habitual stinginess and Hell because he had, while still alive, forced the devil into a pact that would spare Jack from ever going to Hell. Boy, did he live (or rather die) to regret it! The Irish brought this custom to the US in the 1840s but found it more convenient to use pumpkins than their traditional turnip, rutabaga or gourd.

Bobbing for apples. Bobbing for apples on Halloween (the time of the apple harvest) may have been inspired by the Celtic fables about heroes who journeyed across water seeking the magical apple tree on the mythical isle of Avalon. There is a more accepted theory: that the Celts (taking a leaf from the Romans who worshipped Pomona, the goddess of fruit and abundance) played a parlor game on Samhain in which unmarried people would try to bite into an apple in water or on a string; the first to succeed was thought to be the first to marry.

Trick or treating. This resembles the All Soul's Day practice called "going a-souling" in which poor people would beg door-to-door. In exchange for a gift of soulcakes, the soulers would promise to say a prayer for the dead. It's possible, though, that the practice developed independently in the US in the 20th century, especially the part where children threaten a trick if they don't get a treat. (This may have been around the time manufacturers came up with fun-sized candy bars.)

Costumes. The Celts wore disguises, usually made of animal skins, during their Samhain celebrations, possibly to conceal themselves from the spirits who were afoot at the time. So those Catwoman and Spider-man outfits may be most true to the ancient roots of the practice.

Ghost stories. The Celts believed that during Samhain, the boundaries between this world and the otherworld became blurred and the spirits of those who had departed walked the earth. Those beliefs survive to this day in the form of ghost stories and divinations: asking for helpful hints or guides to the future from those who have second sight.

There are two other holidays that share thematic elements with Halloween or have common ancestors:

Guy Fawkes Day. This day, held in Britain on November 5, commemorates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 (an attempt by Guy Fawkes and some fellow Catholics to blow up King James I and Parliament). However, its focus on bonfires, as well as its calendar date, are reminiscent of Samhain. The custom of children begging for "a penny for the guy" is similar to trick-or-treating, as well.

The Day of the Dead (El Dia de los Muertos). Contrary to what one might think, this 3,000-year-old Aztec holiday is actually a joyous celebration. It is held on November 1 and 2, primarily in Mexico and other parts of Central America, and features visits to graveyards to leave flowers and lighted candles in honor of the dead. The souls of children are believed to visit earth on November 1, with adults's souls following the next day.

Facts and Figures
(courtesy of the US Census Department press release for Halloween; all data is for the US)

The first city to officially celebrate Halloween was Anoka, Minnesota, in 1921.
Illinois led the country in pumpkin production last year with 497 million pounds. It was followed by California, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which each produced over 100 million pounds. A total of 1.1 billion pounds was produced in 2005 for a value of over $106 million.
There are 36.1 million potential trick-or-treaters: children aged 5-13. There are 108 million households for them to visit.
California is the prime location for chocolate and cocoa manufacturing establishments, with 136 as of 2004. Pennsylvania is next with 122. The countrywide total is 1,241, and they employ 43,322 people and ship $12.5 billion worth of goods.
California is also tops in non-chocolate confectionary manufacturing establishments (76), out of a total of 515 such establishments, which have 22,234 employees who ship $7.2 billion worth of goods.
Per capita consumption of candy was 26 pounds in 2005, much of it during Halloween time. That must make it more challenging for Americans to fit into the outfits provided by the 2,497 formal wear and costume rental establishents that operated in 2004.

Halloween History

A Complete Guide to Halloween

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Halloween Facts and Traditions
Halloween's roots can be traced back to Celtic culture in Ireland. According to their "Druid" religion, November 1st was New Years' on their calendar. The celebration would begin on October 31st ,and last into the following day. The spirits of all who died in the prior year, would rise up and roam the earth on this night.

This is an evil night when spirits roamed the streets and villages. Lord Samhain, the lord of Darkness, would arrive in search of the spirits to take them to the underworld.

Halloween as it is currently celebrated with costumes, trick or treat, and superstitions, takes from this Druid Holiday.

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Halloween Around the World ...

Halloween, one of the world's oldest holidays, is still celebrated today in several countries around the globe, and has had influences from many cultures over the centuries. The ancient Celtic festival called Samhain is considered by many to be a predecessor of our contemporary Halloween. Samhain was the New Year's Day of the Celts and was celebrated on November 1st. In early Ireland, people gathered at the ritual centers of the tribes, for Samhain was the principal calendar feast of the year. It was a joyful harvest festival that marked the death of the old year and the beginning of a new one. It was also a day of the dead, a time when it was believed that the souls of those who had died during the year were allowed access to the land of the dead. Many traditional beliefs and customs were associated with Samhain. Most notable was that night was the time of the wandering dead, the practice of leaving offerings of food and drink to masked and costumed revelers, and the lighting of bonfires, continued to be practiced on October 31, known as the "Eve of All Saints," the "Eve of All Hallows," or "Hallow Even."

The tradition of wearing costumes at Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. In ancient times, Winter was an uncertain and frightening season when food supplies often ran low. For many people who feared the dark, the short days of Winter were filled with constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that spirits returned to the earthly world, people would wear masks when they left their homes during the night hours. In this way, they would avoid being recognized by the ghosts and be mistaken merely for fellow spirits. During Samhain, Celtic villagers would don costumes to represent the souls of the dead and dance out of town, in the hope of leading the dead along with them. Similarly, in Christian religions, parishioners would dress as their favorite Saints and display relics of these departed souls.

People have been using Jack O'Lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man named "Stingy Jack" who was too mean to get into heaven and had played too many tricks on the devil to go to hell. When he died, he had to walk the earth, carrying a lantern made out of a turnip with a burning coal inside. In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips, rutabagas, or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. Halloween was not widely observed in America during the first few hundred years of settlement. However, when the potato famine in the 1840s in Ireland, brought thousands of Irishman to America, they in turn brought the custom with them. They found the American pumpkin to be an excellent replacement for the turnip. Today, the carved pumpkin is perhaps the most famous icon of the holiday. When the term jack-o'-lantern first appeared in print in 1750, it referred to a night watchman or a man carrying a lantern.

Ireland — Believed to be the birthplace of Halloween... the tradition in Ireland is still celebrated as much as it is in the United States. In rural areas, bonfires are lit as they were in the days of the Celts and children dress up in costumes to spend the evening "trick-or-treating" in their neighborhoods. After the visiting, most people attend parties with neighbors and friends. At these parties, many games are played, including "snap-apple," in which an apple on a string is tied to a doorframe or tree, and players attempt to take a bite out of the suspended apple. In addition to bobbing for apples, parents often arrange treasure hunts with sweets or pastries as the "treasure." The Irish also play a card game where cards are laid face-down on a table with sweets or coins beneath them. When a child selects a card, he or she receives whatever prize might be found there. A traditional food is eaten on Halloween called "barnbrack." This is a type of fruitcake which can be baked at home or store-bought. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake which, so it is said, can foretell the future of the one who finds it. If the prize is a ring, then that person will soon be wed and a piece of straw means a prosperous year is forthcoming. Children are also known to play tricks upon their neighbors on Halloween night. One of which is known as "knock-a-dolly," where children knock on the doors of their neighbors but then run away before the door is opened.

Austria: In Austria, some people will leave bread, water and a lighted lamp on the table before retiring on Halloween night. The reason for this is that it was once believed such items would welcome the dead souls back to earth on a night which for the Austrians was considered to be brimming with strong cosmic energies.

Belgium: The Belgians believe that it is unlucky for a black cat to cross one's path and also unlucky if a black cat should enter a home or be brought on a ship. The custom in Belgium on Halloween night is to light candles in memory of dead relatives.

China: In China, the Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night. Worshippers in Buddhist temples fashion paper "boats of the law," some of which are very large, and are then burned in the evening hours. The purpose of this custom is twofold: as a remembrance of the dead and in order to free the spirits of the "pretas" in order that they might ascend to heaven. "Pretas" are the spirits of those who died as a result of an accident or drowning and whose bodies were consequently never buried. The presence of "pretas" among the living is thought by the Chinese to be dangerous. Under the guidance of Buddhist temples, societies are formed to carry out ceremonies for the "pretas," which includes the lighting of lanterns. Monks are invited to recite sacred verses and offerings of fruit are presented.

Czechoslovakia: In Czechoslovakia, chairs are placed by the fireside on Halloween night and families remember the dead by eating special cakes and drinking cold milk "to cool the souls roasting in Purgatory." For the Czechs this is quite a serious holiday, when families gather at cemeteries to pay respects to their ancestors and relatives. It is an extraordinary beautiful time, when all the cemeteries in the land are awash in candlelight and flowers, and in the cool and dark winter evenings the firelight reflects off the snow and makes for a magical experience if you're lucky enough to be a part of it.

England: At one time, English children made "punkies" out of large beet roots, upon which they carved a design of their choice. Then, they would carry their "punkies" through the streets while singing the "Punkie Night Song" as they knocked on doors and asked for money. In some rural areas, turnip lanterns were placed on gateposts to protect homes from the spirits who roamed on Halloween night. Another custom was to toss objects such as stones, vegetables and nuts into a bonfire to frighten away the spirits. These symbolic sacrifices were also employed as fortune-telling tools. If a pebble thrown into the flames at night was no longer visible in the morning, then it was believed that the person who tossed the pebble would not survive another year. If nuts tossed into the blaze by young lovers then exploded, it signified a quarrelsome marriage.

Germany: In Germany, the people put away their knives on Halloween night. The reason for this is because they do not want to risk harm befalling the returning spirits.

Hong Kong: The Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as Yue Lan (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) and is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts.

India: Mahalaya is a religious ritual in the Hindu community that revolves around awakening dead spirits. The principle meaning of the day is to celebrate the love of spirit, and to stop man's trivial desires. Once the ritual is completed, their souls gain peace for the remainder of the year. On this day, all of those who have died in the region of Yama come back to earth and visit with their mortal descendants. It is celebrated on September 27th, the last day of Aswayuj (a special time that is considered sacred for making offerings to the dead). When darkness falls, the people pray to the Goddess for help against evil demons. Some take sacred baths in the Ganges River, and pray for their deceased relatives. Food also plays an important role in the ceremony; it is essential to offer splendid dishes to the dead. The Hindus consider the human body to be the most important vehicle to get closer to God, and they cannot pray on an empty stomach. Hindu mythology states that the hero, Mahabharata Karan, went to heaven after abandoning human life. Unfortunately thing's did not go as planned. In heaven he found mounds of gold, but there was little food. Apparently, during his mortal life Mahabharata offered many jewels, but limited amounts of food. The hero prayed to God of Death, and was granted his wish: The hero was sent back to earth, where he was given two weeks to correct his errors. During that period he fed the poor, and made the correct offerings. Soon after, he returned to heaven, and found an abundance of food for his new life.

Japan: The Japanese celebrate the "Obon Festival" (also known as Matsuri or Urabon) which is similar to Halloween festivities in that it is dedicated to the spirits of ancestors. Special foods are prepared and bright red lanterns are hung everywhere. Candles are lit and placed into lanterns which are then set afloat on rivers and seas. During the "Obon Festival," a fire is lit every night in order to show the ancestors where their families might be found. "Obon" is one of the main occasions during the Japanese year when the dead are believed to return to their birthplaces. Memorial stones are cleaned and community dances performed. The "Obon Festival" takes place during July or August.

Korea: In Korea, the festival similar to Halloween is known as Chusok. It is at this time that families thank their ancestors for the fruits of their labor. The family pays respect to these ancestors by visiting their tombs and making offerings of rice and fruits. The "Chusok" festival takes place in the month of August.

Mexico, Latin America & Spain: Among Spanish-speaking nations, Halloween is known as El Dia de los Muertos. It is a joyous and happy holiday ... a time to remember friends and family who have died. Officially commemorated on November 2 (All Souls' Day), the three-day celebration actually begins on the evening of October 31. Designed to honor the dead who are believed to return to their homes on Halloween, many families construct an altar in their home and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, fresh water and samples of the deceased's favorite foods and drinks. Frequently, a basin and towel are left out in order that the spirit can wash prior to indulging in the feast. Candles and incense are burned to help the departed find his or her way home. Relatives also tidy the gravesites of deceased family members, including snipping weeds, making repairs and painting. The grave is then adorned with flowers, wreaths or paper streamers. Often, a live person is placed inside a coffin which is then paraded through the streets while vendors toss fruit, flowers and candies into the casket. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce. Some of these gatherings may even include tequila and a mariachi band, although American Halloween customs are gradually taking over this celebration. In Mexico during the Autumn, countless numbers of Monarch butterflies return to the shelter of Mexico's oyamel fir trees. It was the belief of the Aztecs that these butterflies bore the spirits of dead ancestors.

Scotland: Much like in Ireland, the Festival of Samhain marks the change of season in Scotland. And much like in the United States, children "trick-or-treat," with one exception: they must compete with each other by singing or telling jokes or stories in order to win the treat. One other difference between the Scottish Halloween and the American Halloween is that they use turnips instead of pumpkins. One very Scottish tradition takes place on Halloween and involves single women. According to myth, the women have to peel an apple by candlelight in front of a mirror. If the woman is able to peel the entire apple without tearing the peel, she will see the image of her future husband in the mirror.

Sweden: In Sweden, Halloween is known as Alla Helgons Dag and is celebrated from October 31 until November 6. As with many other holidays, "Alla Helgons Dag" has an eve which is either celebrated or becomes a shortened working day. The Friday prior to All Saint's Day is a short day for universities while school-age children are given a day of vacation.

Thailand: The festival of Phi Ta Khon is a type of procession with music and a parade of masks that accompany the image of the sacred Buddha. During this procession the young village men, dressed up as ghosts and spirits, poke fun at the other villagers as they recite the story of Buddha's last reincarnation. The procession begins in the city of Dan Sai, which is located about 320 miles northeast of Bangkok. The annual festival is celebrated on the first day of the Buddhist holiday known as Boon Para Wate and occurs in May, June or July. The origins of this festival are not quite clear, but it is tied into Buddhist folklore. Legend has it that while in his penultimate life, Prince Vessandorn was away from the country on his travels for so long that his subjects forgot about him. Apparently, they thought he had died. When he returned, the people were so thrilled and celebrated with so much fervor that the spirits awoke and joined the celebration and so the festival of Phi Ta Khon was born.

Halloween Safety Tips

Boo! Halloween safety tips
Stay Visible. Children should bring flashlights or glow sticks, carry reflective bags, wear reflective tape on their costumes and avoid masks, which may inhibit children’s ability to see.

Cross streets safely. Cross at a corner, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them. Do not assume that because you can see the driver, the driver can see you. Look left, right and left again when crossing, and keep looking as you cross. Do not run across the street.

Walk on well-lit sidewalks or paths. If sidewalks are missing, walk facing traffic as far left as possible. Children should walk in familiar areas with minimal street crossings.

Watch for cars. Look for cars that are turning or backing up. Never dart into the street or cross between parked cars.

Tips for Drivers:

Be especially alert. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are during dusk and rush-hour periods between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Drive slower than usual. Anticipate heavier pedestrian traffic than usual.

Keep headlights on. Use full headlights to spot children from greater distances.

Other Safety Issues:

Check treats for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them.
Do not allow children to chew or break glow sticks, as the liquid inside is hazardous.
Look for non-flammable costumes and non-toxic Halloween makeup.
Only use cosmetic contact lenses prescribed and fitted by an eye care professional. Wearing ill-fitted or improperly sanitized contacts, even for a few hours, can cause an eye infection, cornea ulcer, or even blindness.

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Halloween pet safety tips
Treats Can Be Tricky!
The arrival of Halloween brings fun parties, trick-or-treaters, and lots of delicious candies. However, this entertaining holiday can be potentially hazardous to our pets. The ASPCA offers these helpful hints to help pet parents keep their loved ones healthy and safe during Halloween:

Chocolate is not appropriate for pets. “Chocolate (bakers, semi sweet, milk and dark) can be potentially poisonous to many animals,” says Dr. Stephen Hansen, board-certified veterinary toxicologist and Senior Vice President of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Ill. Dr. Hansen advises pet parents to watch for symptoms of exposure to chocolate that may include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate.
Candy can be dangerous. Dr. Hansen reminds pet owners, “It’s extremely important to ensure that Halloween treats are out of reach of your pet. Animals are very good at sniffing out the treats they shouldn’t have, so it’s up to us to make sure they stay healthy and happy.”

Candies and gum often contain large amounts of the sweetener xylitol, which can be toxic to pets, especially dogs. Ingestion can produce a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, incoordination and seizures.
Keep a close eye on your pet’s whereabouts this holiday season. A common myth at Halloween is that there is an increase in mischief to black cats. “We haven’t seen any evidence that indicates that black cats are at greater risk during Halloween,” says Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA Pet Adoption Center in Manhattan. “Some adoption facilities restrict the adoption of black cats to prevent any misbehavior, but the ASPCA hasn’t found sufficient proof to implement this. However, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on pets during this busy holiday.”
Tag your pet. “Sometimes pets may stray from home,” adds Ms. Buchwald. “Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors constantly arriving at the door, and pets may escape the safety of their home. Be sure that your pet has identification tags should he or she accidentally get loose.”
In addition:

Watch those wrappers! Keep aluminum foil and cellophane candy wrappers away from pets. They can cause intestinal blockage and induce vomiting.
Protect your decorations. Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn may cause stomach upset and can result in intestinal blockage as well if large pieces are ingested.
Take care with costumes. If you do decide to dress up your pet for the holiday, check that the costume does not limit her movement, hearing, sight or ability to breathe or bark—and remember to inspect the costume for any choking hazards.

Halloween Safety Educational Film

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Who's Watching Sex Offenders On Halloween?

Nothing scarier for parents than sex offenders on Halloween
Like a lot of Valley families, the Guerrero family of Phoenix did some last minute costume shopping Tuesday night.

But for big sister Laura, more important than looking good on Halloween is staying safe.

"It's halloween, there will be lots of kids out, you never know what can happen," said Laura.

And when it comes to sex offenders, it's up to adults like Laura to identify and avoid their homes.

Some offenders are allowed to give out candy under Arizona law.

Most law enforcement agencies do not monitor them Halloween night.

"Unfortunately the answer is yes, there will be no doubt sex offenders at whatever residences distributing treats to children," said Harold Sanders of the Department of Public Safety.

For Laura, keeping tabs on two kids come Wednesday night will be difficult enough.

She wishes she had some help tracking the sex offenders in the area

"I think they should enforce some sort of law or something at least advising the parents: that's an offender and they're giving out candy because you never know," she said.

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Officials Tell Sex Offenders To Keep Doors Closed On Halloween

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Think safety this Halloween
Halloween may be the best day of the year for a child with a sweet tooth.

He dresses up in costumes and roams from house to house trick-or-treating for that precious Halloween loot.

But there’s something most children don’t think about — safety.

Dangers are lurking everywhere — from crossing the street to knocking on the wrong door.

It’s not easy to know who is going to answer the door.

There are almost 100 registered sex offenders in Kerr County including those in Kerrville, Ingram, Hunt, Center Point, Comfort and Mountain Home.

Kerr County Sheriff’s Office investigators were busy Tuesday making sure 49 sex offenders in unincorporated areas haven’t moved from their registered address.

In Texas, convicted sex offenders must notify law enforcement officials where they live, where they work and what kind of vehicles they drive. If any changes are not reported to law enforcement, the offender is violating the law.

“If you are a sex offender and violate the rules, don’t live in Kerr County because we are going to find you,” said Carol Twiss, KCSO chief investigator. “If they are not compliant with the law, then we will file charges on them.”

Typically, investigators verify sex offenders’ addresses twice a year.

KCSO Investigator James Ledford and 198th Adult Probation Officer Tanna Brown spent Tuesday morning tracking down registered sex offenders.

Some were home, others were not. Some lived in nice houses, others in small travel trailers. Most looked like average Joes.

For those sex offenders who are on parole or probation, the rules are stricter and more complex.

On Halloween, those convicted sex offenders are not allowed to turn on their porch lights or have any Halloween decorations out.

Texas is one of at least 10 states that has a law restricting sex offenders from Halloween activities.

“They are not allowed to entertain trick-or-treaters or even answer the door,” Twiss said. “Parolees or those on probation cannot have any contact with children.”

Local probation officers will be out on Halloween checking for any violators.

Former sex offenders who are not on probation or not on parole still can decorate for Halloween.

Twiss said those houses that are decorated will be watched closely by sheriff’s deputies on Halloween night.

Parents are encouraged to check where sex offenders live before allowing children to wander from house to house.

To find sex offenders in Kerr County, log on to and click on “Public Sex Offender Search.”

Last Minute Halloween Shopping

Halloween brings out ghoulish, heroic shoppers
A skeleton riding a motorcycle out of a grave is part of the spooky Halloween display in the yard of Terry and Robin Goyette of Burton. So are lighted skulls, an 8-foot spider with moving legs and more ghoulish garnishes.

But none of it was bought this year. Rather, it's from an accumulation the Goyettes have used to decorate their yard for at least 15 years. They're part of an increasingly popular trend that has made Halloween second only to Christmas as a decorating holiday.

The National Retail Federation is projecting that Halloween spending will reach $5.07 billion this year, up from $4.96 billion last year. However, the Goyettes, whose children are grown, are cutting back.

They won't be hosting their usual party this year but were out costume-shopping recently for an adult party they plan to attend.

Terry, who "likes the gory stuff,'' wants to dress as a surgeon with his chest cut open and innards spilling out. Robin's thinking of being a vampire goddess.

An estimated $1.82 billion Americans will spend on costumes this year breaks down to an average of $23.33 per person, according to the National Retail Federation's annual Halloween spending survey. That's about a third of an average $64.82 in total projected spending per person.

Kristina Kiss of Imlay City, who is a student at the University of Michigan-Flint, wants to keep her spending down, too. She'll spend up to $40 on a costume, if she finds one she likes, but may make it herself to save money, she said.

Party plans in Ann Arbor recently brought Kiss to the Spirit Halloween store on Miller Road in Flint Township to look for a costume, although she also plans to shop at stores in Sterling Heights where she works, she said.

Waiting until the last minute last year resulted in her wearing a pirate costume - not because it happened to be popular but because it was just about the only thing left.

Last year, Kiss also was able to get by with regular makeup instead of having to buy special effects makeup. And she has not bought decorations or passed out candy since she was home with her parents, she said.

That leaves it up to parents of small fry like Teresa Quesnelle of Fenton to rack up the big sales.

With four children ranging in age from 4 to 10, Quesnelle estimated she will spend $100 to $150 on costumes. That tab will rise to $200 if she and her husband decide to buy costumes for a party they are invited to, she said.

Transformers, pirates, World Wrestling Entertainment figures, Power Rangers, Spider-Man and other superheroes are among the biggest sellers for boys' costumes, said Tonia Farinha, spokeswoman for California-based Spirit Halloween, which has about 548 seasonal stores in 46 states, including one on Miller Road in Flint Township and another at Prime Outlets in Birch Run.

Hannah Montana, a Disney character, has been flying off the shelves for 8- to 12-year-old girls, and princesses and pirate wenches also remain popular, Farinha said.

Pirate and Spiderman costumes are equally popular with adult males, and adult women are going for sexy, flirty costumes.

But decorations are what sets Spirit Halloween stores apart, Farinha said.

"We have a design team that works to produce exclusive items for us,'' she said, noting that this year that includes a 6-foot-tall animated Jason of "Friday the 13th'' movie fame.

Devil men and other decorative pieces are strong sellers for haunted houses and parties.

"Halloween is the second largest decorating holiday right behind Christmas,'' Farinha said. "We have sold a great deal of decor.''

Some customers come into the stores just for the Halloween experience, she said.

Parties and trick-or-treating definitely help put the ka-ching in Halloween coffers.

Quesnelle's children will be attending a neighborhood party sponsored at one home by several parents. Everyone brings a dish to pass and then takes the kids trick-or-treating, she said, adding that they go all-out to decorate the party house, but don't decorate their own home.

Party America, a consumer party supply chain that has local stores in Flint and Flint Township, temporarily bills itself as "America's Halloween Costume Store."

Halloween banners and posters are displayed in store windows, ghoulish props decorate the foyer, spiders are glued to the carpet and shelves offer a full range of Halloween supplies - balloons, greeting cards, candy, invitations, serving ware, makeup and hundreds of packaged costumes for men, women and children.

Local stores operated by Halloween USA, another seasonal operator, include locations on Linden Road in Flint Township and at Courtland Center in Burton.

Kmart, Wal-Mart, Target and Meijer are among larger retailers fully stocked with Halloween goods.
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