Dressing up for Halloween not what it used to be

Published 9:17 pm Monday, October 21, 2013

If Riley Simpson could, she would start a grassroots effort to get people at schools and businesses to dress up for Halloween.
If anyone could pull it off, the eight-year veteran of Monsters on Main Street would be the one.
Simpson said dressing up would encourage creativity for students and be beneficial to adults in the workplace.
“I think it’s just a great way to blow off steam. It’s a great stress release. You kind of get out of the daily stressors and you’re just playing,” Simpson said. “And you’re just having fun. When people feel better. they’re going to work better.”
Sharon “JoJo” Singleton remembered when she first started working for Beaufort County. She said Department of Social Services employees had a reputation for going all out for Halloween.
“They had this one girl that would come in dressed as a witch. She had the hair, the hat and the dark clothes. She never said a word. It was creepy,” Singleton said. “But we used to have a lot of fun.”
The tradition died as people retired. Singleton said her boss, County Manager Randell Woodruff, would not protest if the office got into the holiday spirit this year. “He’s really good about group participation,” she said.
Singleton broached the subject with her co-workers, but there were no takers. She is holding out hope she can turn them around in the coming week.
R. Wayne Rollins, senior business service specialist at the Mid-East Commission, said he has never worked in a place where employees dressed up for Halloween. The best his office does is casual Thursdays, when employees are allowed to wear blue jeans.
“I have never done it. Every place I’ve ever worked is a little bit stiff,” he said. “It’s just another day for us.”
If Beaufort County wants to see the best of Halloween, Rollins and Singleton recommend a trip to Beaufort County Community College.
“They take it to an extreme,” Rollins laughed.
Washington Pediatrics patients can be assured they will find a few people in costumes if they visit that office Halloween.
“Some of them get excited about seeing the older people dress up,” said Sue Whitaker, a receptionist and phone operator at the medical practice. “I know we’ve had some good ones: Dorothy from the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ of course a witch, the one I liked the best was Velma, a Scooby Doo character. She was cute.”
Lisa Woolard, director of the Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children, said her office has not talked about costumes, but she would not mind if people dressed up. Since Halloween falls on tots’ day, a playgroup the office has every week, she said, costumed children would be around to enjoy the spectacle.
“Well, you know, we are all about children. So, as long as it’s appropriate, something a child can relate to, and we know why we’re doing it and we have a purpose,” she said.
Catherine Keech works in the same office as Woolard, but said she would not be dressing up because she wants to maintain a sense of professionalism.
Belhaven Town Manager Guinn Leverett is all for costumes. In fact, he has his picked one out already.
“We used to make a whole lot more of it than we do now,” Leverett said.
The town never sent out a memo or held a costume contest, but it has never forbidden costumes in Town Hall. In fact, Leverett would not even limit costumes to Oct. 31.
“If somebody comes in on Feb. 22 dressed as a tree chopper (in honor of George Washington’s birthday), we’d probably forgive them,” Leverett said. “That’s the fun of it.”
Leverett said dressing up took a downturn with the introduction of televisions.
“When I grew up, we had to make our own fun. And we did. We got pretty good at it,” he said. “Television just spoiled a lot of people. They didn’t have to do anything to entertain themselves.”
He and Simpson are of the opinion that the best costumes do not come ready-made. For those interested in sporting a costume Halloween, Simpson recommends checking closets and thrift stores.
“The best costumes are when you take bits and pieces of things and put them together. Just mix it up,” she said. “The best things
are the surprises and the unexpected.”