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Pumpkins, witches and ghosts galore, as trick-or-treaters go door to door, the witching hour is almost near, so read below if you have no fear.



Tricks and Treats



The 2009 National Confectioners Association’s Halloween Survey reported that chocolate treats will reign supreme this Halloween. According to the survey, 52 percent of Americans plan to pass out candy this year. Other favorite Halloween candies include hard candy and lollipops, chewy or gummi candy, gum and caramel treats.



Steve Gems, manager of Bings, said the store’s most popular sellers are Snickers, Pay Days and Milky Way candy bars.



Candy is not only for the children though. The survey said that nearly one-third of adults will take at least one handful or more of treats from the treat bowl for themselves.



According to the U. S. Census Bureau, 23.8 pounds was the per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2008.



The Associated Content Web site, associatedcontent.com, offers five healthy alternatives to candy this year that include fruit roll ups, juice boxes, low-fat pudding cups and pretzels.



Devilish Decorations



There are some staples when it comes to decorating for Halloween. Things such as ghosts, pumpkins, spider webs and tombstones are popular, but this year vampire decor and inexpensive decorations are catching consumers’ eyes.



Eric Monsees, owner of Balloons & Tunes, said some of his best sellers have been scene setters. The items are used like wallpaper or borders and depict scary scenes.



“They are economical,” Monsees said.



For the vampire fans, Monsees is selling a vampire kit which features a wooden cross and stakes. Full size coffins, tombstones and even a guillotine can be purchased this year.



“I’ve sold a bunch of body parts,” Monsees said.



Brains, hearts, hands and feet are packaged like meat and sold for less than $10.



Monsees offers balloons, table settings, costumes and accessories. Many of his items are sold for less than most other businesses.



“Because we’re smaller we box up and discount items for the next season,” Monsees said.



According to the National Retail Federation’s 2009 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Action Survey, consumers are expected to spend an average of $56.31 on Halloween this year.



The survey reported that consumers will spend on average $14.54 on decorations.



Mr. Jack-O-Lantern



Pumpkins come in all shapes, sizes and sometimes colors. In 2008, 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins were grown in the U.S. from people like Leon Cumpton, owner of Paw Paws Pumpkin Patch in Sedalia.



For three years, Cumpton has invited school groups and adults to his farm to pick the perfect pumpkins.



Bigger pumpkins are thicker and are typically better for carving. Two years ago, Cumpton grew a 150 pound pumpkin.



“The big ones do go real fast,” Cumpton said.



His pumpkins range from 50 cents for the small ones to $12 for larger pumpkins. The average price is about $6.



In mid June, Cumpton begins planting his seeds and in 95 to100 days they are ready to be sold.



In addition to selling pumpkins, Cumpton offers tours of his farm through the week for schools. Children can walk through a corn maze, hide in a hay fort and bike along a tricycle course.



“For the school kids we have an educational talk about pumpkins and what’s grown on a farm,” Cumpton said.



Children also can paint a pumpkin at his patch.



Once the pumpkins are carved or painted and Halloween has passed, Cumpton said people can save the seeds to plant the following year. Cumpton said they need plenty of room, water and sunlight to grow well.



Paw Paws Pumpkin Patch is open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.



For more information about pumpkins visit pumpkinpatchesandmore.org.



Halloween Safety



Halloween night is meant to be filled with spooky fun and tasty treats, but safety should be considered as well.



The Missouri State Highway Patrol is urging motorists to pay attention for trick-or-treating children, weather and increased traffic.



When buying costumes, parents should ensure the costume is made from flame-resistant material and is short enough so the child won’t trip. Wearing light-colored clothing or adding reflective tape also is advised. Masks can limit visibility, so parents should advise children to be cautious when approaching stairs, curbs or the street.



The highway patrol suggests trick-or-treating while it is still light outside or carrying a flashlight. Small children should always be accompanied by an adult and all children should be reminded to never enter a stranger’s house or car.



Pencils, pens, erasers and small party favors are alternatives to candy on Halloween. But, if candy is chosen as a give-away treat, parents should make sure the goodies are well-wrapped.



Adult Halloween revelers are asked to be sensible as well by using a designated driver if they plan to attend a party where alcohol is served.



Costumes



The King of pop is moon walking into his first appearance of the most popular Halloween costume this year. According to cnbc.com, Michael Jackson ranks second in the top 10 costumes of adults. Angels, ghosts and political masks are also popular choices.



Teenagers seem to want to sink their teeth into vampire costumes this year which is most likely due to the popular ‘Twilight’ book series.



According to Sedalia store managers, cute, frilly and sparkly is winning out in the costume contest among young girls. Hannah Montana, Barbie and Disney Princesses are favorites.



Young boys are flocking toward movie costumes this year.



“Transformers,” “G.I. Joe,” “Wolverine” and “Star Trek” have been flying off the shelves.






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