By Jean Shanley
Special to the Tribune
Halloween is a time for kids and adults alike to pretend to be something they’re not — an opportunity to play a role, if only for a few hours — to scare someone, impress someone, enchant someone or just plain have some fun.
In that case, the Academy Theatre — where many people over the years have portrayed someone else — seems might just be the perfect place to find the costume needed to complete the late-October role-playing. The Academy has between 200 and 300 costumes that can be rented this Halloween season — or any season.
They’re not all from Academy productions, though. Most have been donated by a costume shop, and the Academy for the past five years has made some extra money for its operations by renting the costumes.
Costumes include brides, knights, animals (such as dogs and cows), 1950s poodle skirts and many, many more. There’s even a zombie — which seems to be THE costume of the year based on the popularity of the “Walking Dead” television show and numerous zombie-related movies over the past year.
Costumes at the Academy can be rented for $25, plus a $5 cleaning fee. The inventory of costumes can be checked out every Wednesday from noon to 5 p.m. in October or by appointment. Costumes are due back the week after Halloween, according to Cynthia Enneking Bivens, executive director of the Academy.
“I think it’s a bargain,” she said, with proceeds going to the general operating budget for the theatre, which produces plays year-around.
Many are “one of a kind” costumes, Bivens said, but there is a wide variety for both kids and adults. She said the Academy expects the costumes to be returned in good condition.
“Everyone is pretty excited looking through them,” she said.
“When you get a costume from the Academy Theatre, you get a great costume at a great price and we take care of the cleaning and storage,” the director said.
The Academy is not the only place to get costumes for Halloween. Many of the stores are packed with a wide variety of costumes, but zombies are widely known to be the favorite this year.
Other TV shows and movies also are providing ideas for characters for Halloween — including “Despicable Me 2,” “The Great Gatsby,” and Disney movies which continue to be popular among the younger ones.
Erin Struchen, one of the co-chairs of the annual Meadville Halloween parade — which takes place the last Saturday in October — expects to see a lot of superhero costumes this year since that’s the parade’s theme.
These can include a wide variety of heroes — from Batman, Spider-Man and Superman to real-life heroes such as firemen, police officers and military personnel — along with the doctors, nurses and others who respond to emergencies and provide help with a “super” power as needed.
The Crawford County Humane Society Thrift Store and the Salvation Army both have costumes, which have been donated from previous owners to be used by others who share the same type of love for characters.
The thrift store manager, Gregg Curry, said the store just opened its Halloween section, which even includes a “large pumpkin” outfit for those wanting something a little less scary and more traditional.
The Salvation Army doesn’t have as big a selection this year, but a spokesman said there are some costumes available.
Other stores in the area such as Dollar General have parts of costumes, which can be used to make a complete outfit — such as tiaras for princesses. A Big Lots spokesperson said one word for the most popular costume: Zombies. And both Wal-Mart and Kmart have a wide selection.
Whatever one’s costume choice is or becomes, it seems having fun as a family or group of friends is what it’s all about. And going trick-or-treating is more fun when the person answering the door has the opportunity to see great costumes on people having a good time.