In the Yard

Rhonda Hayes is a garden writer, photographer and blogger. She also volunteers as a Hennepin County Master Gardener. Rhonda chronicles her gardening adventures and advice at her award-winning blog, The Garden Buzz. She is a frequent contributor to Northern Gardener magazine and the Star Tribune Home + Garden section. At Your Voices, she writes about life around the city lakes, occasionally veering off the garden path with essays on the silly and serious issues of the day.

The Better The Costume, The Worse The Weather

Posted by: Rhonda Hayes Updated: October 30, 2013 - 1:36 PM

With my kids grown up I miss making Halloween costumes, but I have to say I sure don't miss the weather worries associated with it. And we didn't even live in Minnesota then.

It was a point of pride for me that we always hit the streets in homemade costumes, none of that slick, shiny dime store stuff. Creativity was king.

Talking with my daughter on the phone recently I told her how the news featured the best Halloween costumes for cold weather and how to convince your kids you didn't really notice the sweatshirt layer underneath. Yeah, right she said. 

It never ceased to amaze me that no matter where we lived; the more imaginative the costume we concocted, the crappier the weather. If it wasn't the weather, something else always seemed to thwart my most earnest Halloween efforts.

It all started when the same daughter was obsessed with the Little Mermaid. Being a new mom I went all in and produced an iridescent tail with quilted fish scales and matching scallop-shell top, plus a sea-shell tiara. Of course, it was a rare Kansas snowstorm that night. At least we have the video of the three, count 'em, three trick or treaters that showed up. And yeah, yeah, I know all about your famous Halloween blizzard, so I can hear you say, wow, what wimps.

The year of the Beanie Baby. I sewed and sneezed through yards of polyester fur to transform my son into  Mel the adorable Koala, while my daughter went as his tag, an oversized foldout heart complete with that red plastic thing that attached to the toy. Yep, pouring rain. 

As the kids got older we switched from cute to catchy. The weather guys were predicting a warm evening, so we went with a Survivor theme, it was still new and newsworthy. Hawaiian shirts, buffs and tiki torches (and we hung a few of those old Beanie Baby rats and snakes on the torches). You have your Halloween blizzard of '91, Wichita had the Halloween flood of '98. I have a picture of them in their costumes with the TV's orange splotchy weather radar in the background.

It wasn't always the weather that rained on our parade. There was the year we moved to a very small Illinois town where unbeknownst to me they had strict rules about trick or treating. I had spent weeks sewing through slippery turquoise satin and sheer fabric to make my daughter the Disney character du jour, Jasmine ensemble from Aladdin. (She says she can still remember me crying when I sewed it backward and had to rip out all the delicate seams.) 

I waited for dark and headed out with the kids only to be told at the first door that trick or treating hours were 4-6pm and we were too late and out of luck. 

Moving a lot did mean we could recycle costumes occasionally because it was new again in a new town, I did get my money's worth out of my son's Great Pumpkin get-up.

 There were other times when I soldiered on with Halloween no matter the obstacle. "Soldier on" being what I was told whenever I encountered a problem while we were living in England. The kids still very young,  were worried they wouldn't have Halloween, especially with such a strong sentiment about adopting those "bloody American holidays". The first year, without a sewing machine and no craft stores in sight, we pulled off the Flintstones. I  used old scraps laced up the sides for cave men clothes and added a certain flourish with chicken bone (from the day-before dinner) accessories.  

The next year though, that little English village celebrated Halloween and our kids wore their costumes from the ill-fated Illinois year. Better yet they won pound coins as prizes at the pub. And at our house, we had three, count 'em, three trick or treaters.

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