Skeletons, butterflies, frogs and even baby chickens bounced around the festive food court at the Mall in Columbia on Tuesday, as officials urged residents to celebrate Halloween despite Sandy's after-effects, and parents enthusiastically tried to comply.
"It may be a little soggy and a little muddy," said Raquel Guillory, spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O'Malley. "But as long as there are no downed wires or trees in the way, we do hope the kids get out and do a little trick-or-treating."
Parents said they were excited that their children would be able to break their cabin fever before entering a candy frenzy, and some started one day early to get their children in the spirit.
"We were just so bored in the house that mommy wanted to leave the house and have it be fun," said Mindy Torres of Ellicott City, who was accompanied at the mall by a frog, a princess, a plain-clothed Spider-Man, and a model for the popular girls store Justice. "As long as everyone still has their lights on, we're going" trick-or-treating.
Officials in the Baltimore region encouraged trick-or-treating. A spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the city expected to be back to normal by Wednesday, and city police would be operating under its Halloween deployment plan to keep streets safe and accessible.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said that aside from the temperatures, there was no reason parents should keep their children home. "It's going to be cold," said Kamenetz, who has two sons. "But the Kamenetz boys are going to be trick-or-treating, and I don't see any reason why other parents shouldn't make the same decision."
Annapolis officials, however, strongly cautioned about the weather-related hazards that the area still faces. Police warned that roads littered with leaves will be slick and that excited children rushing across streets to trick-or-treat in costume may be difficult to see.
But parents attempted to salvage what they could in Anne Arundel County.
Casey Burke and her son, Max, quickly settled on a wizard's hat and beard at Costume Cabaret in Severna Park on Tuesday.
"We were concerned that Halloween would be canceled," said Burke, who lives in Pasadena. "We haven't even carved pumpkins yet. We'll have to catch up today."
The storm forced Costume Cabaret to shut down on what's normally a weekend great for business.
"Even for the Saturday before Halloween, this Saturday was extremely busy," assistant manager Tamara Long said. "I think a lot of people were thinking the storm was coming. Sunday, we had to close early because we didn't have enough business. Nobody's going to go out in a hurricane to buy a Halloween costume."
The impending storm had redirected Suzanne Huber's holiday planning, too. After four days of preparing for Sandy, Halloween spirits sank in the Huber home in Arnold.
Instead of shopping online for her daughter Natalee, 11, on Friday, Huber was stocking up for the storm. Instead of shopping for materials and making Natalee's dream costume of a Reese's peanut butter cup over the weekend, Huber was making a week's worth of meals, just in case.
"It's dampened spirits a little bit," Huber said.
Monday, she tried to visit a costume shop, but everything was closed. Tuesday, Natalee and her mother picked through feather boas at Costume Cabaret and shrugged. At home, Huber had met the same apathy from her 9-year-old son.
"I'm trying to talk them into getting excited," she said.
Jennifer Testerman's plan B for Halloween: scavenge the family closets.
"I've got four boys. We've got two pirates, because we have all the accessories, and we've got a KGB agent wearing dad's old clothes," said Testerman, who lives in Severna Park. "The oldest said he's not dressing up, and I'm not pushing it because I've got nothing for him to wear."
Plan A was to get costumes over the weekend, but Sandy left the family indoors with plenty of time to invent costumes and plenty of uncertainty about what the holiday will hold.
"We didn't want to spend a lot of money because we don't know what will happen," Testerman said.
But Nysia Carter of Columbia always believed her six children would be trick-or-treating. The only snag was what her indecisive 3-year-old daughter wanted to be.
"We were definitely going, no matter what. Our only concern was what neighborhoods we were going to go to," Carter said. "They can't miss out on Halloween; then they'd have to wait a whole year."
Baltimore Sun reporters Luke Broadwater and Alison Knezevich contributed to this article.
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