In the days leading up to Halloween before Hurricane Katrina, a security guard stood outside the door of Uptown Costume and Dancewear while lines of anxious customers stretched two blocks down Magazine Street waiting to be ushered inside.
“But rules are rules,” the guard would say. “Only 20 in at a time.”
Inside, the lucky few clutch bat wings and corsets and mini-dress nurse uniforms while waiting in an hour-long line to reach the register.
Employee Webbie Rhodes said when Halloween is over, Uptown Costume and Dancewear usually looks like most stores did following the storm — looted. This year is no different.
“People are just buying, buying, buying everything,” Rhodes said. “Pirates and wood fairies are big this year. And they’re buying corsets and can-can skirts up a storm. We do a lot of sexy versions of everything, from Snow White to Alice in Wonderland. Those are really big.”
Uptown Costume opened shortly before Halloween last year and the lines were out the door. This year’s pre-Halloween rush started three weeks ago and has been steady ever since.
“People wonder why the hell we do this in New Orleans and it amuses me,” Rhodes said. “Some people think we’d be hesitant to celebrate anything, but this is our industry, tourism, and if we didn’t do it they would say we were done down here. Yes, it is a party town and it keeps the bars open and the hotels going.”
As Halloween weekend nears, Rhodes expects the crowds to be the same size as they have for the past decade.
We may not have been prepared for this hurricane season. But I've got my costume already. Never let it be said that New Orleaneans will pass up an opportunity to have a good time.