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  • JOSÉ LUIS VILLEGAS / Bee file, 2011

    Rainy weather heading into Halloween can be a pain for outdoor decorators like Kellie Burr, but last year was better for this serene feline, perched amid pumpkins and a fake black cat with seemingly less of a penchant for patience.

  • Bee file, 2002

    Spider-Man's get-up remains a popular costume this year.

Seeds: It's just scary – Halloween keeps growing

Published: Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Saturday, Sep. 28, 2013 - 7:16 pm

It takes more than a little rain to dampen Kellie Burr's Halloween enthusiasm. Before Monday's storm in Sacramento, she was scrambling to protect her freshly painted crypt and keep her mummy's new bandages dry.

"I pulled a lot of my stuff," she said. "I didn't want the rain to ruin everything.

"The one thing about Halloween: You never know what weather you'll get," Burr added. "It always seems to start raining one week before Halloween. Weather plays a factor."

A mother of two, Burr is a Halloween veteran. She decorates her Foothill Farms home each October with special attention to detail.

"I think it drives my husband crazy," she said. "I'm running out of room to store all this stuff. But I get more and more ideas. Once you start, you don't want to stop."

Burr is not alone. More people will decorate for this Halloween than ever before.

According to the National Retail Federation, a record 170 million homeowners will create their own Halloween haunts. Seven out of every 10 Americans say they'll celebrate Halloween in some way, most likely by carving pumpkins, handing out candy or dressing up in costumes.

It's great for the economy. The total Halloween tab is expected to surpass $8 billion for the first time. That's up almost 14 percent from pre-recession Halloween spending. The average household will spend about $80 on costumes, candy and decorations.

"Everybody's decorating these days," said Cindy Cummings, Burr's mother. "Some of these houses are awesome."

Consumers will spend $2.87 billion on costumes, says the NRF. In a survey of almost 10,000 adults, the most popular picks for 2012 are familiar standards: witches, vampires and pirates for adults; and princess, Batman and Spider-Man outfits for kids. About $370 million will be spent on pet costumes. No. 1: Puppy "pumpkin" outfits.

Burr, a paralegal, makes her own decorations. She starts planning in November and works on her Halloween project throughout the year. With a tight budget, she uses cardboard and castoffs to create hair- raising vignettes.

"I just love Halloween," she said. "It's my passion. I love the time of year, the spookiness and mystery. The kids are having a good time. It's just in me – my favorite thing."

This Halloween, she's turned her family's front yard into an Egyptian tomb complete with moving mummy.

"I started making my own Halloween stuff when I couldn't find it in the stores," she said. "The stuff I'd see was all generic, impersonal. I wanted something special. I try to make everything as real as possible."

To give her mummy's crypt an authentic look, she hand-painted hieroglyphics.

"It took me 30 hours," she said. "The hieroglyphics all spell real words that would be appropriate for Halloween, such as 'spooky,' 'ghost,' 'haunted.' "

Burr enlisted her two children – Logan, 11, and Kyla, 8 – to help with research.

"We got books on hieroglyphics," Burr said. "My son – a sixth-grader – is learning about ancient civilizations now, so that was great. They both like to learn. So this became educational to them as well."

Burr sees her annual project as a way to share her passion with the neighborhood. It's one of the things that makes Halloween so much fun.

"When you go to a house that's decorated, it makes it that much more memorable," she said. "It's exciting. You remember it years later. And you know people put a lot of work into that stuff."

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