Popular Halloween Outfits: As some of you know, Paul Croce lives three blocks from campus, on West Minnesota Avenue. And every year on the night of October 31, that street becomes a carnival setting, with cute and ghoulish children and hovering parents walking up and down the street collecting goodies. Paul Croce has applied some culture watching to this carnival by making a game to see what are the most popular outfits each year. Social scientists will be pleased that the sampling is large: over three hundred children come to the door each year (in 2001, even with the caution after the terrorist attacks, there were 370 children!--in 2004, over 400; by 2008, over 1500!--on Halloween, it's the place to be.). The outfits cluster into two groups: popular culture characters from movies, TV shows, and other aspects of mass-mediated culture (like Tigger or Batman), and folk characters from stories, traditions, and everyday life (like angels or firefighters).
Of course there is some overlap... Is that baby dressed as a pumpkin or The Great Pumpkin?; how should we categorize that spider princess (I went with the last word: this one was a princess--but a different one than most!); and children see baseball players in their everyday life but also displayed on their TVs.
In the late 1980's, the most popular characters were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then in the early 1990's, the Power Rangers were big - for the record, the red one has been by far the most popular. But throughout the years, there have been lots of wizards and princesses and bums. In 2000, there was a strange trend toward violence: children dressed as accident victims, dead people, even some Trenchcoat Mafia. But that was gone in 2001. Even though the national mood had turned to helping victims and preparing for war, there were surprisingly few nurses and army people-but the creepy outfits were gone.
And the winners please!.... In 2002 it was witches, with a total of 19; in 2003, witches gained (up to 23), but princesses surged past them with 28; and in 2004, witches were way big with 35, while princesses slipped to 21 behind vampires at 24. By 2008, princesses had surged into the lead again with 59, followed closely by pirates at 56.For the complete reports on all the Elvis sightings,Obama look-alikes, Hannah Montanas, and ghouls of Minnesota Avenue, see the 2004 article, the 2007 articleand the 2008 article in the DeLand Beacon.
What will Halloweens of the future bring? Put your finger on the pulse of emerging trends in youth culture... try to guess the most popular outfit... or take a stab at detecting some pattern from the waves of fashion. Let us know your educated guesses on Halloween outfits - or just send us some reports from your sector of the galaxy!