"There's nothing more nightmarish than what we just went through the last two weeks," he said.
It may be too soon to know what the public mood will be by the end of October, but Jensen isn't taking any chances.
After debating whether to proceed at all, Jensen has completely rethought Hades Revenge, the haunted attraction that he has been putting together at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park.
Out went true-life horror depictions, like dead bodies and mortuaries. In went a fantasy world featuring a lost civilization.
"We wanted to take people to a different place, to give them more of an escape," he said.
Meanwhile, Halloween attractions on the East Coast have been canceled or scaled back since the Sept. 11 events, and costume shops nationwide, including those in Chicago, have reported an increase in sales of police and firefighter costumes, a ripple effect of the heroic roles those public servants played in the disaster.
"It just makes sense to me that kids would want to identify with these heroes," said Chuck Schwartz, owner of Card and Party Warehouse in three Chicago locations. "If we start a war, who knows what will happen."
George Garcia, owner of Fantasy Costume Headquarters in Chicago, said, "We are selling more patriotic vests and Statue of Liberty costumes."
But he added that sales of more typical Halloween paraphernalia are also brisk. "People are still buying 'Scream' masks. We ran out of blood fountains and bodies. ... It was packed this weekend," Garcia said. "I had a lady buy 30 gory masks yesterday, for a church."
George W. Bush and Uncle Sam masks are also reportedly selling well. One company, mask maker Cesar, told Business Week that they have had some requests for Osama bin Laden masks, but the company has no plans to make any.
Elsewhere, activities at Chicago airports will be slightly altered, with personnel dressing up and handing out candy on Oct. 26 and Halloween day, but corresponding events with the Chicago Children's Museum at the Kids on the Fly Exhibit at O'Hare International Airport have been canceled.
Cindy Gatziolis of the Mayor's Office of Special Events cited security reasons, and said, "[That] will not be happening because of the inability to put non-ticketed passengers beyond the check-in points."
The Skokie Park District is toning down its Scream Scene haunted house as well. "There will be some changes to make it less scary," said communications manager Margaret Moreira. "They're going to do more of the science-fiction horror rather than the gory kind of traditional horror."
At least one Chicago psychiatrist, however, believes it might be therapeutic for the holiday to go on as usual. Dr. Daniel Yohanna, medical director of the Stone Institute of Psychiatry at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said Halloween could actually be a good tonic for children if it gets them away from the constant horror and back to their regular routine.
"I hope we haven't overexposed our children to the horror of the event, because Halloween is part of their play," Yohanna said. "And if they are too horrified to play, then I would have some concern."
Niles resident Tina Nielsen, a mother of three, concurs. Her home is known in its subdivision for elaborate displays, and while she's scaling back, she said it's due to the demands of a 10-month-old infant and a remodeling project, not concern over the holiday's themes. "I still put the decorations out because the kids enjoy that," said Nielsen, who also has children who are 7 and 5. "If we stop doing our normal routine, the kids are just going to have more questions."
Several years ago, Waly Lowry of Libertyville began a huge, patriotic Halloween display in his yard after being inspired by a Day of the Dead exhibit at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Pilsen.