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This year, Halloween will be night of the living Palins

Trick-or-treaters of all ages and genders are putting the "boo" in Caribou Barbie, using everything from latex masks to hockey sticks to costume themselves as Gov. Sarah Palin. "This is definitely a phenomenon," said a costume company exec.
/ Source: TODAY staff

Even Lindsay Lohan is doing it. Dressing up as Sarah Palin, that is.

This Friday, don’t be surprised if you encounter an army of Alaska governors roaming the streets for candy. A substantial number of women, children, and even men will be getting political on Halloween with costumes incorporating the VP hopeful’s signature rimless glasses, high-heeled boots and chic upsweep.

Yahoo! searches for “Sarah Palin Halloween costume” made the top 10 Halloween costume searches in the last 30 days. And sites like eBay, as well as local costume stores, are witnessing a steep rise in requests for all things Palin.

“You gotta stay current on these things,” said Todd Kenig, CEO of Ricky’s Halloween Costume Store in New York City, where sexy Sarah Palin hunter outfits and multicolored plastic guns are flying off the shelves. Only two weeks after Palin was announced as McCain’s running mate, the costume retailer jumped into election-related products, including a “Miss Alaska/Miss V.P.” sash that is outselling a John McCain mask 12 to 1. 

To accessorize their Palin outfits, trick-or-treaters of all ages will employ baby dolls, stuffed wolves, hockey sticks, six-packs of beer, tiaras, snow boots, binoculars (to “look for Russia”) or even friends dressed as Tom Cruise’s character in “Top Gun” — for double the “maverick” power. Part of the appeal is how accessibly simple it is. Just put on a wig and glasses and maybe grab a tongue-in-cheek item you can find in your home.

“If Tina Fey can do it without much effort, then I’m up to the challenge,” wrote 39-year-old Kristin Heffern, director of the Women’s Hockey Organization of Arizona, from  Scottsdale. “I have the verbiage and accent down, but I am working on my pageant walk, wave and winking.”

Trick-or-campaigning?And while some are just following Tina Fey’s “Saturday Night Live” lead, others take the upcoming celebration as an opportunity to voice their own personal politics.

“I want to go as Palin because she is an enigma to me,” said a 26-year-old New Jersey lawyer who declined to give her name. “She’s random, she's ballsy, and she has the most outrageously close-minded politics I’ve ever come across.” The registered Democrat’s costume consists of a red power suit, American flag pin and an ostentatious fur stole. “It’s obviously an easy costume, and I think it’ll still elicit some smirks.”

But not everyone plans on mocking Palin.

Kim Young, a 50-year-old from Boerne, Texas, a largely Republican community, will be wearing rimless glasses in honor of the politician. “I think Sarah Palin was the smartest thing the Republican Party has done in years,” wrote Kim, whose friends find the costume to be a classy, powerful statement. “[And] my boyfriend thinks she’s hot.” 

And even though they can’t yet cast a vote, kids might be bargaining for more than just candy corn during their door-to-door travels.Madeleine Ziering-Smith, a Laguna Hills, Calif., eighth-grader who thinks Palin is a “super cool” example of women in politics, thinks borrowing her mom’s navy suit and high heels will be a great conversation-starter.

“I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of political opinions — good and bad — thrown my way,” Ziering-Smith wrote. “But I’m ready for them.”

Even pets aren’t safe from the election mayhem. Emily Spiegel, a 25-year-old entertainment assistant, will deck her poodle in a blazer and miniglasses for the New York City Halloween parade. “Making [my dog] into Palin was more interesting than making her McCain,” she said. “Palin has such a recognizable look.”

And it’s not just the person who’s been dubbed “Caribou Barbie” competing for Halloween glory. Anything in close proximity to Palin is fair game. Teenagers and adults alike intend to go as “First Dude” Todd Palin, a pregnant Bristol Palin, and even a shot-dead moose. 

Kellee Kromarek, a chiropractic assistant from Fargo, N.D., will be going as the governor while her friend plays her Alaskan arm candy. The 32-year-old plans on making her “Todd” hold a fishing pole and wear a shirt emblazoned with “I’m with her” beneath a snowmobile racing jacket.

“I’m sure we'll be posing for pictures with people all night long,” Kromarek said. “We’re talking about going to Wal-Mart to shake hands with people there.”

A hot seller
One of the most popular items at Halloween shops is the Sarah Palin deluxe latex mask, which has already sold out at many party costume chains, supercenters and online retailers. The mask’s manufacturer, Rubies Costume Company, has sold more than 15,000 units since start of production in late September, and it can barely keep up with requests.

Although they also sell McCain and Obama masks, the numbers for Sarah Palin masks are “huge,” said Howard Beige, executive V.P. of Rubies. “We never had a latex product that sold out for the season in five days,” he said. “This is definitely a phenomenon.”

In past years, Beige added, election-related masks were a good indicator of who was slated to win the presidency, but this year it’s “confusing”: Obama is outselling McCain, but the Palin mask is clearly blowing them both out of the water.

“This is the first time the vice presidential candidate is stealing the limelight,” Beige said.