SEBRING - Sally Lukondi does not usually dress up for Halloween, but this year she has a party to go to and was strongly considering a zombie costume Wednesday.
Her husband, John, a retired Marine, has his costume all fixed up, she smiled. Lucky enough to still fit in his old uniform, all John Lukondi needed to complete his "shot down pilot" get-up was some black face makeup.
The two Lorida residents were shopping at the Spirit Halloween store in the Shoppes at Shelby Crossing shopping center, along U.S. 27 in Sebring, which opened Sept. 14, with all things ghoulish for yard decorations, costumes for all ages and accessories - from beards to false glasses to plastic swords and axes.
What's new this year should not come as a surprise since popular culture supplies a lot of the inspiration for costumes.
Those who like A&E's Duck Dynasty show can be a part of the bearded, bayou-inhabiting Duck Nation. Duck Dynasty costumes are new this year, so are the minions from Despicable Me: 2, said the store's sales associate Victoria Fraser and assistant manager Lonnie Kay.
AMC's The Walking Dead TV series has spawned its own set of costumes, which hang on one side of the store. There is the show sheriff Rick Grimes' get-up for grabs, a Michonne Wig for girls who want to party as the sword-wielding warrior, a bunny girl slipper get-up along with accessories that show characters don.
The new-fangled costumes go hand-in-hand with the evergreen perennials. There is plenty of superhero, princess and ninja costumes for kids, and zombie and "sexy type" attire, said store manager Cara Avery.
The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
The store will close three days after Oct. 31, during which time merchandise will be sold at marked-down prices.
Avery said the shopping gets brisker closer to Halloween. They also have a kiosk where people can order items that are available not stocked in the store, and they will be shipped for free to a customer's home.
There are also plenty of Halloween and harvest-themed activities through October.
While the Humane Society of Highlands County will not open its Terror Trail this year because the rain has made the trail wet, there are plenty of other activities on tap, including Highlands Hammock State Park's debut Haunted Hammock.
Lake Placid: From 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31
Sebring: From 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26
Avon Park: From 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. It will be in conjunction with the second concert from the Music on the Mall series. Local band Lotela Gold will play '50s to '60s music at the downtown Avon Park mall. There will be food and drink. Visitors are asked to bring their own lawn chairs.
SUN 'N LAKE
The "Trick or Trot" Festival & Fun Run
Will be from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Sun 'n Lake Recreation Complex, 3500 Edgewater Drive.
The race registration begins at 5 p.m. Cost to enter is $8 for children and $10 for adults.
Those who want to attend just the festival without participating in the race pay $2 each. There will be a costume contest, hayrides, bounce houses and obstacle courses, trick-or-treat stations, story telling, face painting, entertainment, food and other activities.
Spooktacular Sip & Stroll:
Destination Downtown Sebring's monthly event is from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 11.
Dress up in a favorite costume and enjoy free wine at participating merchant locations with a $10 "I Love Downtown Sebring" wine glass purchase or a $5 armband purchase. Glasses are available for purchase and pick-up at the Galleria 301, 301 Circle Park Drive, Sebring.
Spooktacular Furry Friends & Family Photo Shoot Fundraiser
Stop by Sadie Kahn Park, North Ridgewood Drive, in downtown Sebring from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 11. with guest photographers Jennifer Goodson, Hector Gautier and Keith Goodson. For a$10 donation, get a professional portrait of your child or pet with proceeds benefiting the Cornerstone Hospice Pet Peace of Mind Program. Some pet costumes will be provided courtesy of Dogtown USA. Appointments are available in advance by calling 382-4563.
Highlands County Family YMCA's Spooktacular
The annual Halloween family event returns from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 18 and Oct. 19. Entry is $3 a person and kids 2 and under can enter free.
There will be games, candy, a haunted house, a dunk tank, cake walk for both adults and kids, and a chance to get photos taken with people dressed up in princess characters and other Halloween costumes. There will also be face painting, a "spook train," and refreshments.
The YMCA is located at 100 YMCA Lane, Sebring.
1st Annual Haunted Hammock
Highlands Hammock State Park will host its 1st annual Haunted Hammock from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 25 and Oct. 26. No other information was available as of press time Wednesday.
Downtown Sebring Halloween Bash
Will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31, with trick or treating in downtown Sebring.
Highlands Little Theatre also will hold a guided ghost tour in downtown Sebring from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 31.
Guides and performers will tell ghost stories along the route. They will take a maximum of 20 people on the tour. Kids under 5 are free. Adults pay $8 in advance and $10 at the door. The youth pay $3 in advance and $5 at the door.
Harvest Festival on Main
This fundraiser for Park and Avon elementary school PTOs returns Oct. 19 to Main Street and Donaldson Park in Avon Park.
It starts with a costume parade at 9:30 a.m. for children.
From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., there will be bounce houses, pony rides, games, trains, slides, obstacle course, face painting and other activities.
An armband for kids costs $8 each, plus food is extra. The armband includes all the games and inflatables.