Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
11:41 pm EDT
Thursday, October 29, 2020

In the Villages: Ghosts and goblins challenge Santa

The race is on to be Villagers’ top holiday. 

Story: Joe Angione

When I was a kid (many decades ago), there was no holiday that came close to Christmas as the nation’s favorite. But today, witches, ghosts and goblins are running a close race with Santa, Christmas trees and candy canes.

Both are commercially-driven holiday spectacles focused mainly on children, but they’re so very different. One plays on kids’ love of being scared by loads of frightening specters; the other spotlights kids’ love of gifts, Christmas lights and snowy winter fun. 

The strange thing about Villagers’ response to both holidays is that children aren’t allowed to live here. Some may visit grandparents here now and then, but on any given day kids are scarcer in The Villages than buffaloes.

Regardless, most Villagers still decorate their homes inside and out like they did when their kids were young and living at home. These days, Villagers are spending as much time and money on Halloween as they are for Christmas. Some of this is because Halloween is being pushed harder than ever in advertising and promotion that says it’s now the “kids’ favorite holiday.” And there’s nothing dearer to Villagers than their grandkids.

This year, there could be even more emphasis on decorating for Halloween during the time leading up to October 31. Some say the coronavirus pandemic is driving Villagers to use Halloween to take their minds off COVID-19 and ease into a happier frame of mind. There may not be any “trick-or-treaters” parading through Village streets this Halloween. I haven’t seen any of them in years. But, still, you’ll more than likely see lots of blow-up monsters on Village lawns, ghost balloons hanging from trees and shrubs and scary-faced illuminated pumpkins sitting next to front doors.

In our house, my wife features a big witch riding a broom on our front door and this year will be no different; she’ll set out life-size stuffed versions of “Frankenstein” and “Beulah the witch” holding hands on our living room couch, then she’ll also display her collection of seven lavishly dressed witches—all nearly two-feet tall—each in a menacing pose sitting on the mantel of our fireplace. 

Halloween will treat retailers well this year. It’s expected American families will purchase $86 in “scary” goodies beginning in early October; that’s not much less than the $107 the typical family spends on Christmas decorations.