Cold weather can’t chill Halloween spirit for Iowa kids
Editor's note: This story originally published in October 2016.
The magic of Halloween is that for one night — or one Beggars' Night, if we’re talking about central Iowans — you can be anything you want to be.
When young boys and girls head out to trick-or-treat, they can dress up as superheroes, princesses or ghoulish monsters. (Although, maybe dressing as a clown isn’t such a good idea this year.) But for Iowa kids, there is often one small limit to their imaginations: The costume must also be warm.
Beggars' Night essentials:
The average temperature on Oct. 31 in Des Moines, according to National Weather Service data, is a crisp 47.3 degrees. That’s hat-and-glove weather by some mom standards. Although 47.3 is the average, most Iowans can remember a Halloween or two that felt more like winter than fall. The lowest average temperature even dipped down below freezing as recently as 2002 and 1993 — both in this writer’s lifetime. Even trace snowfalls have been reported on Halloweens past.
— Data courtesy of the National Weather Service forecast office in Des Moines
So when planning Halloween costumes as a child, the potential for cold weather was always a factor to consider. What’s the point of being a ballerina if your tutu is just going to be covered by your winter coat? Luckily, with a little creativity and lots of layers, staying warm and maintaining the integrity of your costume don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It’s just a little extra challenge for young Iowans.
The year I wanted to be a duck, my mom dressed me head-to-toe in yellow sweatpants and completed the look with a yellow stocking cap. Mummy? That was an easy year too. Nobody had to know I was wearing a fleece coat under all of those rolls of toilet paper. Perhaps my most ingenious cold-weather solution was the Halloween I was Harry Potter. The giant velvet cloak picked up at a local thrift store was perfect for covering the multiple layers of long johns underneath.
Good news for Iowans: The current forecast for most local Beggars Night events this year is predicted to be a little warmer than average. So it looks like the record low of 18, set in 1949, is safe for at least another year. And if another high temperature of 86 — like Iowans saw in 1931 — ever rolls around again, I’ll reconsider the ballerina outfit.
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