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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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These tricks are treats: Creating elaborate Halloween costumes

A head-on-a-platter illusion turned plenty of heads in Spokane as a Halloween costume.

Another year brought forth an uncanny Edward Scissorhands, followed the next Halloween by a mermaid-and-pirate combo. Audrey Alfaro, a food writer for The Spokesman-Review, is the creative force behind the elaborate costumes she’s made for her daughter, now 8.

“The inspiration for her costumes come from some of my favorite movies and characters along with just plain demented ideas I think of,” said Alfaro, who describes herself as a big horror fan.

She looks forward to making Halloween costumes every year.

“The costumes can take anywhere from two days to two weeks to make. I’m a huge thrift store shopper, so about everything I use to make her costumes are secondhand. They’re quite affordable.”

Whether costumes are made or bought, pop culture will have its usual influence on what’s trendy this year for Halloween, along with perennial favorites from pirates to princesses.

Some of the season’s attire is expected to mimic Netflix’s “Stranger Things” or the YouTube sensation “Baby Shark.” Other popular costumes are likely to include Princess Jasmine and other characters from the recent live-action “Aladdin.”

If you’re looking for bargain costumes, the Coeur d’Alene Public Library has scheduled its first kids costume exchange. The free event is open from 10:45 a.m.-noon today for families or as long as supplies last.

Mandi Harris, Coeur d’Alene’s youth services librarian, said she had already received four bins full of donated costumes by this week.

“It is the first year we’ve done this, and it was inspired by a program that Meridian (Idaho) Library does,” Harris said. “They have a vibrant costume exchange program.”

She started one in Hayden last year, and it was popular. In recent weeks, Harris received donations of a few adult and infant costumes, as well as some for teens. But a majority of costumes in the swap will fit kids of preschool and elementary school ages.

“The idea is these costumes don’t get worn that frequently, so it helps families to save money and swap rather than shop,” Harris added.

Brenna Stanfield, a Spokane County resident, is another parent who prefers to borrow props or raid her household’s closets for creating family costumes. Stanfield works in family and children’s ministry for Colbert Presbyterian Church, and she and her husband have four kids ages 4 to 11.

“We usually pick a theme based on books or movies,” she said. “One year it was ‘Robin Hood,’ and we had Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Good King Richard the Lionheart, and our littlest was Friar Tuck.

“Another year, it was ‘The Hobbit’ with the Hobbit, Gandalf the Great and an elfin girl for our daughter. My parents thought it was so fun that they found a great dragon costume, so we had Smaug, as well. With four kids, it’s very fun.”

Last year, the family came up with favorite people from history. Their eldest morphed into Blackbeard the pirate, while another son was his first mate. Their daughter was Queen Victoria, who was accompanied by their youngest son as her tiger.

“We figured queens of that era had exotic pets. We had a Tigger costume, so we made it work.”

The family goes to harvest parties and does a little trick-or-treating along the neighborhood block.

Other parents, such as Alfaro, start mostly from scratch to make costumes. Six years ago, her daughter’s costume received plenty of notice when they visited downtown Spokane.

“In a sea of princesses, a head on a platter really stands out – as I witnessed firsthand when Mobius Children’s Museum in River Park Square held a Halloween costume contest,” Alfaro said.

“My little 2-year-old was not only the most shocking thing onstage, but also the only little girl not donning a dress.”

After creating the elaborate costumes for her daughter, Alfaro has entered them in online costume contests. Over the years, she’s won tickets to Seahawks games, a guitar, $500 on Fandango, Broadway show tickets and more than $2,500 in gift cards and cash.

What’s in store for this year? Alfaro recently decided: Annabelle, the haunted doll, locked in a case. “So I’m excited to get started.”

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