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April 18, 2014

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Early Halloween festivities show that ‘holiday creep’ is getting scary

Happy Halloween.

I know, I know. The calendar says that we’re still in September, and nightfall on the final day in the month of October is 33 days away.

But Halloween has already broken out here in Florida.

Last week, Universal Studios near Orlando opened its annual Halloween Horror Nights.

Starting the annual Halloween extravaganza on Sept. 20 might sound ridiculously early, until you consider that Disney World kicked off its Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights on Sept. 10.

Celebrating Halloween that early is the equivalent of having a New Year’s Eve party two weeks before Thanksgiving or handing your valentine a dozen roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates on Christmas Eve.

There’s a name for this sort of disregard for the calendar. It’s called “holiday creep.”

Halloween has become a victim of an ever-creeping Christmas, which used to be a December holiday until it was moved up to the day after Thanksgiving with the creation of a marathon of competitive shopping better known as Black Friday.

Last year, Black Friday shopping turned into Black Thanksgiving, with stores opening on Turkey Day rather than waiting until after midnight to begin the annual holiday shopping onslaught.

And this year, Wal-Mart jump-started the Christmas holiday season on Aug. 21 by announcing a holiday layaway shopping program that began on Sept. 13.

So Halloween has been under pressure.

So far, the local haunted houses haven’t succumbed to the September push.

Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairgrounds don’t begin until Oct. 10, and X-Scream Halloween 13 gets started at the G-Star Motion Picture Studios in Palm Springs two nights later.

Starting Halloween festivities three weeks before Halloween seems modest now, unless you’re one of those people who remember Halloween as a single night centering on a pretty simple door-to-door candy gathering operation.

Clearly, that’s an outdated model.

With Type 2 diabetes on the rise among children and strangers attaining new heights of creepiness, enticing roaming children to wander the darkened landscape in search of candy bars has become scarier than dropping them off at a chaperoned haunted house.

There’s a bumper crop of websites that advise you to give trick-or-treaters something healthier than candy.

A woman identifying herself as “Sexy Vegan Mama” on the Circle of Moms website claims to have found the perfect alternative to the traditional Halloween candy.

“I’m a big fan of grabbing multipacks of toothbrushes at The Dollar Store, where I often find them eight-for-a-dollar, and stuffing goody bags with a toothbrush and stickers or other inexpensive party favors like spider rings,” she wrote. “Also, I give mad props to parents who choose not to give out candy. With two little ones allergic to red dye, those non-candy items are a treasure because they don’t have to be culled!”

Handing out toothbrushes on Halloween?

Maybe it’s time to reimagine the holiday, even if it does fall in September.

In other holiday news, it’s not too early to buy your Disney tickets for this season’s Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

The Christmas parties begin in the Magic Kingdom on the night of Nov. 8.

Frank Cerabino writes for the Palm Beach Post in Florida.

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