Forget goblins, Uncle Sam is in demand for Halloween

Sentinel Staff Writer

Halloween is turning red, white and blue this year, and patriotic Christmas trees aren't far behind.

"Miss Liberty and Uncle Sam are very hot costumes," said Ron Sargent, manager of the Super Target on West Colonial Drive. "Every retailer I know is scrambling to get more of those in stock from suppliers."

But the Super Target is already low on patriotic costumes. "We're out of some sizes" and turning parents away with Halloween just weeks away, Sargent said.

Police and firefighter uniforms for children are also suddenly popular and in short supply.

Karen Good, spokeswoman for Costumes Unlimited in Orlando, said, "Uncle Sams are gone, and the female version, too."Florida, had hoped to open his store next week with a huge display of patriotic merchandise, including Halloween costumes. "But I called around and just can't find them. Right now all I have is flag T-shirts and pins."

National chains such as Kmart Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are predicting big demand for firefighter and police outfits like those worn by rescue heroes. In Orlando, Oscar Kleinstuber, owner of Party Market, says parents, mindful of horrific television images of late, are flocking to alternatives. "Batman is big so far this year," he said.

Nationalistic costumes in adult sizes for special events such as company parties and charity fund-raisers are scarce. "We have one Betsy Ross and two Uncle Sams. That's it," says Kay Gonzalez, manager of Madge Elaine's World, a costume shop on East Colonial. But she's getting many inquiries about such outfits in adult sizes for Halloween parties. "We're telling people we can make them," she said.

Not in stock and rarely in demand until now at Madge Elaine's: World War II uniforms. "Especially Pearl Harbor type stuff," Gonzalez said.

Some customers appear to be planning parties for the 60th anniversary of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, she said. "We'll make Pearl Harbor costumes too if they want."

Sargent's Target customers are also asking for red-white-and-blue light bulbs and ornaments for Christmas trees. "I think you can expect a very patriotic-looking Christmas season," he said.

At the new Super Target on South Orange Blossom Trail, Wessling said he's been frustrated in attempts to order patriotic-colored icicles and other Christmas decor.

"You just know that stuff is going to sell well, but most suppliers had already made their Christmas supplies before the terrorism happened," he said.

Jean Patteson contributed to this story.

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