What’s almost as scary as COVID this Halloween in SC? Not much, but zombie babies come close

·3 min read

You know what might be almost as scary as COVID-19?

Zombie babies, of course.

Perhaps that’s why the sometimes spider-covered cherubs are such a popular Halloween decoration this year.

Amber Woods, manager of one of Columbia’s Spirit Halloween locations, said the zombie babies are among the many items Columbians are grabbing off the shelves.

“We’ve been very busy. People seem really excited,” Woods said as shoppers roamed the store evaluating the differences between plastic swords and plastic axes.

Thanks to the zombie babies and the popularity of spider webs made of yarn, among other things, the store is seeing sales nearly triple its daily goal.

It’s a trend reported by the National Retail Federation, which explains that according to its annual survey, “consumer spending on Halloween-related items is expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion, up from $8.05 billion in 2020.”

Woods, a Columbia resident and longtime fan of all things Halloween, is planning to dress as Jigsaw, villain of the Saw franchise of movies.

“I’ve always loved Halloween. It gives you the freedom to express yourself,” she said.

This Halloween, that expression is expected to include vast numbers dressing as Halloween’s Michael Myers and Chucky of Child’s Play fame as well as plenty of superheroes.

Woods thinks Halloween 2021 is booming for a number of reasons, chief among them a desire on the part of her fellow South Carolinians to find some sense of normalcy.

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, as evidenced by the masks Woods and I were wearing when we spoke, but Woods said the availability of vaccines finds more people looking to get out and about.

Shopper Emily Elgin, of Columbia, hadn’t yet decided on the couples costume she and her boyfriend will wear, but she will be out celebrating when Oct. 31 rolls around.

“It feels more like Halloween than it did last year,” Elgin said. “It feels safer.”

That feeling may be why people are ready to swap their COVID-19 masks for the rubbery kind that can transform them into killer clowns, ghouls and the occasional goblin.

But feeling safer doesn’t mean South Carolina is where it needs to be just yet.

As of Tuesday, 54.6% of the population is now fully vaccinated, and that’s after vaccines first became available here Dec. 14, 2020.

It’s been a full 10 months and our vaccination numbers remain low.

Meanwhile, the total number of South Carolinians who have died since the coronavirus reached the Palmetto State has topped 13,565.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said on Fox News Sunday that children and adults should be able to enjoy the holiday.

“Put on those costumes, stay outside and enjoy your trick-or-treating,” she said, though she discouraged gathering in large settings, particularly among the unvaccinated.

Elgin said she’s excited to dress up and have the chance to “be someone you’re not,” but that doesn’t mean she will be tossing her COVID-19 mask or caution aside.

“I’m ready to wait until (the pandemic) is all over with,” she said.

Wise words because let’s face it COVID-19, the risk of hospitalization and death are all much scarier prospects than any zombie baby.

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