October 31 might look different this year, but 58 percent of Americans say they plan to celebrate in some way, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s just one of our 13 associations that make Halloween what it is.
Without associations, Halloween might not be the reliable holiday it is: You know you’ll always be able to find pumpkins, Halloween makeup, and oodles of candy corn. To that end, here are 13 associations that allow you to unmask your inner ghoul, mermaid, skeleton, or zombie.
1. Halloween & Costume Association: Pumpkin-shaped trick-or-treat containers, oversized novelty spiderwebs, bat garlands, kids costumes—this group weighs in on all things Halloween. This year, its Halloween2020.org site is offering ways to safely celebrate Halloween amid COVID-19 depending on the risk in your area.
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2. Haunted Attraction Association: Representing people involved in the world of haunted attractions, HAA helps make sure that houses, hayrides, amusement park rides, mazes, and other outlets that purport to be “haunted” have access to the tools they need to create fun—and safe—experiences.
3. Bat Conservation International: Poor bats—despite being pollinators, fertilizers, and pest controllers, they’re seen as spooky. But BCI seizes upon bats’ reputation with its annual Bat Week, the climax of its monthlong October Is for Bats educational efforts. Want to learn how to build a bat house or take action to support bat habitats? Bat Week activities will show you how.
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4. National Confectioners Association: What would Halloween be without candy? Even in the midst of COVID-19, Americans are buying more Halloween candy than they were in 2019—and NCA is here to support people’s efforts to gather all the candy bars, taffy chews, and sour treats they can handle. It provides some field research, too: According to NCA, Generation X is the demographic that most appreciates candy corn.
5. The Ghost Club: The oldest society in the world dedicated to “psychical research,” this British organization debates and explores unexplained phenomena—as it has since 1862. The organization stresses that it does not perform clearances or exorcisms, and it also prohibits the use of Ouija boards.
6. National Fire Protection Association: The very things that make Halloween fun—draping costumes, wild decor, flickering candles—can also make it a fire hazard. Enter NFPA, which educates the public on how to celebrate safely.
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7. American Gourd Society: The mission of this group is to promote all gourd-based activities, including “cultivation and artistic shape manipulation, historical uses, gourd show competition, craftwork, and artistic decoration.” In other words: It has your jack-o’-lantern’s best interests at heart. (Yes, a pumpkin is a gourd, as well as a squash.)
8. National Retail Federation: NRF might not specialize in Halloween goods, but this association touches the holiday at every point, from costumes to candy to lawn “graveyards.” It also publishes data that other Halloween-happy groups can use to plan their own activities—including this year’s survey, which reveals that 65 percent of Americans plan to buy costumes this year.
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9. Zombie Research Society: Whether you want to prepare yourself for the zombie apocalypse, discuss zombies in pop culture, or research various theories of decay, ZRS is the source for all things undead. The brains of the operation include neuropathologists, epidemiologists, and government relations experts. The late Night of the Living Dead director George Romero also served on the advisory board.
10. American Spice Trade Association: With pumpkin spice heralding the season, it’s worth turning to the original spice experts. ASTA represents growers, processors, importers, and brokers of domestic and international spices; its members manufacture and market the majority of spices sold in the United States.
11. Unitarian Universalist Association: Samhain, the ancient Celtic festival that gave birth to today’s Halloween, remains celebrated by modern-day pagans. And true to its promise of welcoming all beliefs, UUA includes Samhain in its library of holidays and ceremonies, welcoming all believers to mark the end of the harvest.
12. National Safety Council: Trick-or-treating may involve costumes that are easy to trip on, masks that limit visibility, and revelers who disregard traffic safety. NSC offers a Halloween safety guide to make sure families celebrate without risking unnecessary harm.
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13. Animal Rescue Professionals Association: Whether or not you believe that black cats bring bad luck or ride with witches, some animal shelters report that black cats are less likely than other cats to be adopted. ARPA celebrates International Black Cat Awareness Month in October to publicize the plight of these ebony felines.