Five Things You Might Not Know About Halloween

Some frightful facts and trick-or-treating tips from the world of associations—just in time for Halloween.

Will you see dozens of Elsas or Batmans at your door this Halloween? Do trick-or-treaters all like candy corn? Read on for these and other tidbits that might surprise you.


1. Princesses no longer reign supreme—superheroes do. Sorry, Snow White. 2016 is not the year of the princess. For 11 years, princesses were the favorite Halloween costume for kids, but this year, more kids are dressing up as their favorite superhero, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual Halloween survey. The top costumes for adults 18-34 are Batman characters; for adults 35 and up, the top costume is a witch; and for pets, it’s a pumpkin. Americans are expected to spend $3.1 billion on Halloween costumes this year.

2. You can visit a haunted house in an abandoned prison that might actually be haunted. The 186-year-old Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia houses Terror Behind the Walls, a massive haunted-house production with a cast of more than 200 performers each evening, Hollywood-quality sets, and animatronics. Visitors can either watch or opt for an interactive experience, in which they might get sent into hidden passageways, separated from their group, and left to figure out how to escape. The haunted house is “one of the best,” noted John Eslich, president of the Haunted Attraction Association. “A world-class haunted attraction.” Many people believe the prison is haunted: As early as the 1940s, officers and inmates reported spooky occurrences. Each year, about 60 paranormal teams explore the historic site. If you aren’t going to be in Philly, you can visit the prison’s website and watch clips that document paranormal investigations.

3. If you’re going all-out with creepy contacts for your costume, beware. Decorative contact lenses might take your costume to the next level, but they could cause health issues or damage your eyesight, so it’s best to talk to your eye doctor and get a prescription first, says the American Optometric Association. “Many consumers consider these lenses a fashion or costume accessory when, in reality, decorative lenses are also classified as medical devices and still pose the same potential safety and health issues as corrective contact lenses, and require a prescription,” said Andrea Thau, president of AOA. So if you are planning to dress up like Michael Jackson in Thriller, yellow eyes and all, remember to always think twice (do think twice!). AOA also warns against sleeping in your contacts, no matter how tired you are at the end of the night.


4. Yes, parents do steal their kids’ candy. In fact, 72 percent of parents say they help themselves to some of their kids’ candy—42 percent say sharing is a house rule, and 25 percent say they swipe candy when their kids aren’t looking, according to a National Confectioners Association survey. But parents also use the holiday as a teachable moment about moderation: 90 percent of respondents say they set guidelines and talk to their children about moderation when it comes to eating Halloween candy. More than 75 percent of Americans buy Halloween candy, and chocolate is the overwhelming favorite—with 68 percent of people preferring it. Candy corn is a distant second—10 percent like it best.

5. Remember: Safety first. Between 2007 and 2015, Halloween was the holiday with the fifth-highest number of children’s emergency room visits, according to research from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. And most of the injuries were head injuries (17.6 percent). “Sometimes safety is the last thing on the agenda when having fun,” said Joshua Matthew Abzug, a pediatric orthopaedic hand surgeon at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital and an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons spokesperson. “Before hitting the streets, parents should educate themselves and their children on the dos and don’ts to ensure safety while trick-or-treating. For example, they should watch out for vehicles, distracted walkers, poorly lit houses, and other dangers.” AAOS and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America recommend several safety tips, including staying on sidewalks and not cutting across yards or driveways.


Allison Torres Burtka

By Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. MORE

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