After spending hundreds of dollars on Halloween costumes in past years, a dozen Throgs Neck mothers participated in a costume swap to economize during an expensive holiday.
At the Brew Coffee House on Philip Avenue on the afternoon of Sept. 29, costumes covered tables, plastic pitchforks and scythes filled a basket and a bowl of candy sat near the door. A clown was ready and willing to paint faces. Children ran around and played in the cozy space while their mothers chatted and drank coffee. A Halloween-themed Pandora station played from speakers, filling the coffee house with the sounds of “Thriller” and “The Monster Mash.”
Geanine Petraglia, editor and publisher of the Macaroni Kid, an East Bronx blog geared towards local mothers, organized the event with Elizabeth Trempert, owner of Brew.
“Costumes are expensive,” Trempert said. “Kids never want to wear the same costume the next year, so every year – it just gets really expensive.”
Mothers reported that some costumes they purchased for their children in the past cost more than $50 including accessories and makeup.
“So now when you have two and three and four kids and you have to put all of them into a costume that’s almost half a month’s rent, pretty much,” said Trempert.
Petraglia recalled purchasing a costume for her three-month-old daughter that ran over $100, only to see it go into storage on Nov. 1. This inspired her to use her blog to bring the mothers of community members together and trade costumes.
“I thought there has to be so many other moms out there spending hundreds of dollars on costumes and they’re never seen from again,” she said.
Anyone who wanted to participate in the swap could drop off a costume ahead of time, or pay just $5 to enter and grab a costume. Many extra costumes were donated by community members and other local bloggers before the event. Petraglia recalled receiving two large boxes from a friend in Queens. She said she plans to donate any remaining costumes to a Bronx children’s hospital.
Trempert said that the holiday is very popular in the suburban neighborhood, and that many houses were already decorated for Halloween. Decorations, costumes and candy can add up to an expensive night for an area where the median income is just over $50,000, according to the 2010 American Community Survey for Community District 10.
Christine Destefano, a stay-at-home mom who brought her 5-year-old daughter to the costume swap, was very happy to leave with a new costume. “She got a Tinkerbell costume,” Destefano said. “She’s very excited. We swapped out a clown costume that she wore two years ago.”
Rukiya Shannon, a director of college advising at the Bronx Collegiate Academy in the South Bronx, and her 15-month-old son, Ryan, traded in a Native American costume for a tiger costume. She found the costume swap had other benefits besides a new costume.
“I got to meet a lot of other moms and families in the area, which I had not met before,” said Shannon. “Again, the event was free, and supports local businesses.”