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Spirited spending

Marie Havenga • Oct 29, 2016 at 10:00 AM

A lot of bucks go into making things go bump in the night.

According to the National Retail Federation, that number is reaching Luke Skywalker-like levels this year, with estimated Halloween spending reaching records — an astronomical $8.4 billion.

More than 171 million Americans plan to celebrate the boo-holiday this year, with average spending at $82.93, up from $74.34 last year.

Spring Lake Township resident Brenda Thom thinks her family will slightly eclipse the national average.

“I think we'll spend a little more than that, which is scary,” Thom said.

But hey, it's fright night, right?

Brenda, husband Craig, and sons Sean, 9, and Owen, 5, go big on Halloween.

“We decorate our house with pumpkins and gourds and all that fun stuff,” Brenda said. “Our neighborhood always does a little before-trick-or-treating-party, then they go trick-or-treating together.”

The family also passes out candy from their own home — their Halloween-themed home. They'll be joining the 45 percent of Americans who will be carving pumpkins this year.

“We always go a little wild with pumpkins,” Brenda said. “This year, we'll have five. Craig just loves to get pumpkins.This is his favorite holiday.”

Owen will don a penguin costume; Sean, homemade Luke Skywalker threads.

Brenda said she's not certain yet if she and Craig will dress up, but either way, they'll enjoy the Halloween hoopla.

“We like to have fun,” she said. “The kids get to dress up as something they aren't and something they'd like to be.”

Superhero costumes have overtaken princess costumes at the number one spot after an 11-year princess reign, according to the NRF.

Alena VanTubergen, 5, of Grand Haven, is going for the ultimate scare. She'll don a scarecrow costume, crafted by her mom, Amanda.

“I've probably spent about $30 for Halloween this year,” Amanda said. “This includes pumpkins and hay for an outside display, (and) candy and costume items for Alena. It's probably a little less than I spent last year.”

Last year, Amanda and her husband, Mike, purchased a bunny costume for Alena.

This year, their kindergartener will be attending two parties — a parade and party at Mary A. White Elementary School and North Ottawa Community Hospital, then an annual trip to her great-grandmother's assisted living community in Hudsonville.

“All of Alena's cousins meet up at great-grandma's room and the facility allows family and friends of the residents to go door-to-door through the hallways to trick or treat,” Amanda said. “It's so sweet to see all of the elderly residents interact with the little kids.”

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