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Halloween revelers eat up zombie costumes

Ceili IrwFranklPark performs as zombie prom queen haunted house Melrose Park 2007. | Sun-Times files

Ceili Irwin of Franklin Park performs as a zombie prom queen at a haunted house in Melrose Park in 2007. | Sun-Times files

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Updated: November 15, 2011 10:38AM

Zombies are coming back from the dead to be one of the most popular Halloween costumes for kids and adults this year.

While witches maintain the top spot on the National Retail Federation’s list of most popular costumes for grownups, zombies are a growing trend. Aided by the popularity of the movies “Zombieland” and “I Am Legend,” the AMC series “The Walking Dead, and the video game Left 4 Dead, zombies climbed up the grownup’s list from No. 7 last year to No. 4, and from No. 22 to No. 9 among children’s top choices.

“Zombies are huge,” said Courtland Hickey, owner of Lincoln Park-based Chicago Costume Company. “Zombie cops, zombie prom queens, zombie everything. You name it, people want it.”

Pop stars Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry, late rocker Freddie Mercury and characters based on the game Angry Birds also are trendy this year, said Hickey.

Yet, traditional characters continue to dominate costume choices this year, according to the Federation survey. Besides witch, the top choices for adults are, in order, pirate, vampire, zombie and a Batman character.

For children, the princess rules — for the seventh year — followed by witch, Spider-Man, pirate and pumpkin.

The top five choices for pets, a rising sector of the costume business, are pumpkins, devils, hot dogs, bees, and cats.

The retail group is predicting Americans will spend more on Halloween this year, but local shops are split on that topic. “People don’t want to buy,” Hickey said. “They’re cost-conscious.”

That’s not the view at Fantasy Costumes, which stocks local “characters,” including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. “The foot traffic in the store has been building up lately,” said manager Chuck Giovenco, “Instead of having vacations, people are looking for escapes at home with costumes and parties.”

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