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A Week of Ghoulies And Ghosties Is Afoot

October 28, 1985

Undated (AP) _ With Halloween barely two shakes of a witch’s broomstick away, business is booming at some California costume and coffin shops, paraders in Delaware were criticized for celebrating the devil, and Jaycees in Wyoming came under fire for a haunted house in which Santa Claus brandished a straight razor.

Jaycees in Charleston, W.Va., fared even worse: Their haunted house burned down over the weekend, sending members scrambling to find a new location for their main fund-raising event.

And revelers filled the streets of Key West, Fla., for a Halloween parade that capped an annual extravaganza marking the start of the tourist season.

In Los Angeles, adult trick-or-treaters were getting ready to trade their everyday clothes for Thursday-night stints as pirates, clowns and gorillas.

″Halloween has become an adult holiday,″ said Theresa Saidy, owner of Adele’s of Hollywood, where military uniforms and Renaissance outfits were hot items, along with more traditional witch and clown costumes.

″We did our biggest business ever last Halloween,″ she said. ″More than 700 people came in for costumes. The way things are going this year, we expect to do even better.″

Cassandra’s Costumes and Coffins in Los Alamitos, Calif., in Orange County, caters to people who take Halloween seriously enough to rent a real casket for party centerpieces.

Gloria Parker, who operates from her home, says the trade in custom caskets comes alive this time of year and all 22 of her coffins were reserved by Oct. 10. The rate is $35 per day.

″We have cobwebs, tombstones for the yard, snakes, spiders and little caskets,″ Parker said. For $50 a day plus a mileage charge there’s a black 1964 Cadillac with silver curtains.

Not everyone was getting into the spirit, however.

Churchgoers in Georgetown, Del., denounced the ″high holy day of Satanic worship″ as about 700 children and adults in brightly colored costumes paraded Sunday. The Rev. Jack Mercy and his Pentecostal parishioners failed in a bid to have the parade moved to some day other than the Christian sabbath.

″It’s all the work of the devil,″ Mercy said in an interview Friday.

Jaycees in Cheyenne, Wyo., voted Friday night to dismantle the Santa Room in a haunted house the club operates every Halloween as a charitable activity. The room was based on the movie ″Silent Night, Deadly Night,″ which portrayed a person who dressed up as Santa Claus and murdered rapists and child abusers.

The room showed Santa Claus chasing a man with a straight razor. Other characters were made to look dead and dismembered, including a baby nailed hand and foot to the wall.

No one under 12 years old would have been let in, club members said, but it was more than some members of the community could take.

A statement issued by the Jaycees said the project was canceled following criticism by Cheyenne residents and threats to club members.

The Jaycees refused to elaborate on the alleged threats. But Michelle Baker, chairman of the group’s haunted house comittee, said in a separate statement, ″I have had my life threatened and my job terrorized.″ She said she couldn’t elaborate.

The creators of the room, Mike Langlois and Ira Brown, said they were surprised at the controversy.

″We don’t see what the big deal is. This is the same thing you see in the movies,″ Langlois said.

In Key West, Saturday’s Grand Parade wound up the annual Fantasy Fest, the island’s version of Mardi Gras that comes at Halloween time and marks the beginning of the tourist season.

The 47 floats and marching groups included a 10-foot-long green and black lizard, with a five-foot-long tail and Dorothy, the Wicked Witch and other characters from the Land of Oz.

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