Play Stuff Blog

Halloween Hoopla  

Some of my Strong colleagues show off their Halloween spirit.I’ve got my Halloween candy ready for the trick-or-treaters and a plan for how I’m going to decorate my front door with construction paper bats, but it was still a bit of a surprise to arrive at the museum this morning and find half my colleagues dressed (tastefully, of course) for Halloween. I should have expected it—Halloween’s become a big deal for people of all ages.

When I was growing up, an unspoken rule said that you were supposed to drop out of trick-or-treating when you got “too big.” I was a bit of an oddball and kept right on trick-or-treating into my high school years. I’d probably fit in better today when adults get into Halloween as much as kids do, dressing up in some impressively creative costumes.

A little fancy cutting with an X-Acto knife turned paper lunch bags into a Halloween message.Like costumes, Halloween decorations weren’t as elaborate back in the 1960s as they are now. A house that had three or four jack-o’-lanterns seemed pretty spectacular. Today, my neighborhood’s houses have lawns decked out with inflatable Halloween scenes, faux tombstones, and spooky cornstalk scarecrows. I was even inspired a couple years ago to use brown paper lunch bags and a string of white Christmas lights to spell out a Halloween message on my porch.

 Halloween yo-yos, 1980. Gift of Josie Wattie and family in memory of Maurice Wattie, from the collection of Strong National Museum of Play.While our holiday collections here at Strong don’t include many outdoor Halloween decorations yet, we have papier-mâché pumpkins from a century ago along with those stuffy plastic masks from my childhood. More recent spooky stuff includes everything from Halloween mask, about 1960. From the collection of Strong National Museum of Play.Halloween yo-yos to jack-o’-lantern Beanie Babies. But what I’d really like to see in my goody bag this year are photos of your Halloween decorations, costumes, and anything else that makes this holiday special for you. Send them to the museum at You’ll be helping us preserve all the Halloween fun to share with future generations—now that’s a treat!

Photo of trick-or-treaters, about 1965. Gift of William J. Tribelhorn, from the collection of Strong National Museum of Play.