2011 New York’s Greenwich Village Halloween Parade,
“I call it Occupying Halloween,” consumer anthropologist Robbie Blinkoff told USA TODAY about the “adultification of Halloween” in the United States.
According to the National Retail Federation, 71.5% of adults plan to celebrate Halloween this year, including millions of college students. Halloween traditions can go beyond typical bar crawls or Greek parties across campuses.
College students in the Washington, D.C., area can spend Halloween afternoon trick-or-treating alongside younger kids on Embassy Row.
“It’s just fun. You get to see all the students in their costumes,” said Daniela Castaneda, a senior at American University. “How many people get to say they’ve been trick-or-treating at the Japanese embassy?”
Though the years of traditional trick-or-treating are behind (most) college students, they find other ways to celebrate the holiday while at school.
Even cadets at the United States Air Force Academy join in on the festivities, exchanging their uniforms for costumes during formation on Halloween.
“Usually there’s an excuse to take the hill in the center of campus instead of marching too,” said Daniel McAdams who is in his fourth year at the academy. “We’ve had a gorilla chase a banana, angry birds chase a green pig.”
Other Halloween celebrations, however, are more notorious. Isla Vista Halloween, better known as I.V. Halloween — a University of California – Santa Barbara tradition — is already underway. This year’s parties will last 12 days, until Nov. 4.
“Everyone wants to go party at Santa Barbara,” said Zachary Feldman, who studies at the University of California – Berkley.
Not all students, however, are interested in participating in the revelry.
“If you don’t want to be part of the drinking and partying, there are still ways you can have fun and be social,” Raul Martinez told the UCSB student paper, The Daily Nexus. “It is perfectly fine to feel like staying in and watching a movie or even leaving town. You don’t need to feel obligated to be dragged into it by your peers or being part of something you don’t want to be in.”
Like other students in the New York City area, Fordham University students make the trip to downtown Manhattan to watch the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Some, however, choose to start celebrating early by volunteering at an on-campus Haunted House, in a partnership with a Bronx soup kitchen, Part of the Solution (POTS).
“The event has been going on annually since 2009,” said student organizer Laura Buckley. “It was started to increase Fordham’s engagement with the Bronx community, specifically to bring members of this community inside the gates of our campus.”
Ultimately, whether it’s dressing up in skimpy costumes or volunteering, Halloween has a wide appeal to college students as they bridge the gap between adolescence and adulthood.
“Halloween has become an adult holiday for the new American family,” Jeanne Fleming, the Greenwich Village parade producer, told USA TODAY. “You stay right where you are and you celebrate with your friends.”
“On a holiday of which many of us have fond memories from childhood, it’s cool to experience it anew with these kids,” Buckley said. “In the end, though, it’s all about having fun, and to give both the kids and the student volunteers a good scare and a sugar high from all the candy.”
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