The trick to Halloween in Alaska

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 19:00
Costumes need to be seen, keep kids warm

With Halloween just weeks away, it is time to get serious about costumes for my children. This year, I will actually plan the costumes around Alaska weather.

It’s true that there are plenty of things we could do to get around the weather. There is Trick or Treat in the Heat that was held back in September. We could head indoors to the JBER hospital to trick-or-treat Friday, Oct.18 from 1-3 p.m., an activity open to all those able to get on post. However, nothing beats trick-or-treating with our neighbors in our neighborhood on Halloween.

The first year we lived here, I planned as I would for any other cool place we had lived in before. Costumes were bought big enough to wear over pants and a long-sleeved shirt. However, as the snow fell, pants and long-sleeved shirts were not enough to keep my children from Alaska’s cold. Coats hid costumes.

One of the fun things about Halloween is being the person handing out candy — putting candy into bags, feigning fear at the ghosts and vampires and commenting about the costumes: “What a lovely princess! I’m glad Ironman is here to keep the neighborhood safe.”

It wasn’t the same when we had to tell the people handing out candy who they were looking at. Perhaps instead of telling them our children were Alice, a ninja, and a samurai, we should have just admitted they were looking at newbie’s to Alaska.

Last year, we fared a little better. Clara’s Princess Merida costume was still covered by a coat, but it was on old-fashioned plaid coat that fit the Scottish theme. Captain America at least had his shield to distinguish him from regular old Austin in a coat, and Xavier had acclimated himself well enough to the cold to wear his ninja costume.

This year, I have decided not to go with the same costumes I would buy in the Lower 48. For this holiday, I am going to embrace living in Alaska.

My daughter was devastated at first. My new plan ruled out the princess costumes she loves: no more short sleeves and super thin material. Nope, this time I’m looking for heavy material, long skirts that can possibly cover snow pants, and long, loose (to cover the coat) sleeves.

The new rules were not a problem for my older son. He wants to be Michael Jackson. The only hard part there will be finding a place that sells the jacket. I don’t want to buy online because I need to make sure the red jacket will fit over a real jacket. While one sequined glove may not be enough for most in this family, he’s the one who can actually pull it off.

My other son, he’ll be the difficult one of the bunch. After seven Halloweens, he firmly believes that costumes come from the store and are made from paper-thin polyester. Homemade costumes are no fun. The costumes at the store that would keep him warm just aren’t cool enough. We will just have to wait and see what compromise gets made.

This year, we will have costumes that can be seen and keep us warm no matter what weather another October in Alaska will bring.


Eagle River’s Lori Spears is the wife of a captain in the U.S. Army.

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