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Halloween Haunts

Los Angeles doesn’t experience the sort of autumn found in many other places. Trees with leaves that bid a kaleidoscopic farewell don’t grow in Southern California. And in October, the air is more likely to be hot and dry from Santa Ana winds and smoky from wildfires than cool and crisp. If you want the scenery usually associated with fall, you’ll need to drive north for five hours or so to the eastern Sierras.

But one autumn sight might not require driving at all. In recent years, merchants have made a serious commercial industry out of Halloween that goes well beyond the traditional tooth-rotting sweets. Early in August, temporary “pop-up” stores selling a seemingly infinite variety of costumes, decorations, and tchotchkes sprout like toadstools. And many people adorn their homes with spooky displays, whose ostentation and creativity rivals or even exceeds that of Christmas decorations.

I suppose we should be grateful for the commercialization of Halloween. Without it, the full barrage of Christmas commerce would begin in August, or perhaps even earlier. Halloween at least delays the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year until the first of November. Then the pumpkins, ghouls, and skeletons are replaced overnight with a plethora of plastic Christmas kitsch flocked with fake snow. A brief pause during our gluttonous Thanksgiving celebration might be appropriate to express proper gratitude for China, whose low-cost labor fills the cornucopia of cheap decorations for both holidays.

Here, then, is a gallery of Halloween decorations, most of which I found within walking distance of where I live.

Click on any picture to see a larger version


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