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Costume craziness: Pirates hijack Halloween

Shiver me timbers!

Avast all ye landlubbers, jes itchin' to prowl the quarter-deck again.

Hundreds. Nay, thousands of Captain Jack Sparrow look-alikes ye be -- and willin' to walk the plank, too -- all for a taste of Halloween treasure.

Think of it, lads!

All that chocolate-covered, caramel-wrapped, peanut-butter-laden booty -- jes waitin' to be scooped up.

AARRRRRRRGGHH!

"We've got pirate costumes going out the door like crazy," said Dana Walters, manager of Daydreams and Nightmares, a costume shop in downtown Modesto. "Lots of Jack Sparrows," she added.

While Halloween still is three weeks off, the rush for the perfect costume is already under way.

But as popular as Capt. Jack Sparrow -- leader of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" -- may be this season, Walters said not even he eclipses Gotham City's caped crusader.

"Every year," Walters said Wednesday, "Batman is the first costume to go."

As for the women, Walters said it's all about being sexy.

"All of the women," she said, "want to wear as little as possible, it seems."

Children still gravitate toward superheroes, princesses, Star Wars characters and the like.

At the top of this year's list for little ones are "Optimus Prime" for boys and "Hanna Montana" for girls.

"Characters from 'High School Musical' also are very popular with children," said Nicolette Purcella-Castillo of Modesto's Party City. "People should move on these very quickly, they're going very fast."

At Party Warehouse in Tracy, store clerk Tammy Rodrigues said she's hasn't noticed any trend in Halloween costume purchases this year.

"It's anything and everything," she said. "There doesn't seem to be a theme this year."

'Hooked on Pirates' works for many

Most everywhere else, however, pirates seem to be in demand.

"Ever since the first 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie came out, pirates have been big for Halloween," said Theresa Allen, who sells and rents costumes year-round at the party store Etoile on Ventura Boulevard in the Los Angeles community of Tarzana.

From high-seas hotties to gothic pirates, pirate wenches and doggy pirates, too -- whatever floats a landlubber's boat will pretty much fly under the flag of the skull and crossbones come Halloween.

Browse any well-stocked costume shop, dis- count chain or virtual store and you'll find buccaneer duds in all shapes and sizes.

"You can be a captain, you can be regal and wear velvet and it's OK -- or I can send you out of here looking like Johnny Depp with a braided beard," said Barbara Hinrichsen, who owns the year-round costume-rental house the Theatre Company in the San Bernardino County city of Upland.

"Pirates are very easy to do. All you need is a pair of knickers, boots and a shirt."

Want to jazz up the look? Add accessories like eye patches, daggers, boot tops, hoop earrings, hats and wigs. Pistols, swords, masks and telescopes can also help complete the costume.

At the Daydreams and Nightmares costume shop in Modesto, Walters said costume accessories are included in the basic rental price.

According to Ted Hong, vice president of marketing for the top Web ticketing service Fandango, movies like "Pirates" are good fodder for Halloween costume ideas.

"Look through the iconic characters in the his-tory of film and there's so much rich content to pull from," Hong says, adding www.fandango.com recently started offering visitors suggestions on what to wear.

They include Catwoman, Edna Turnblad from "Hairspray" and the "The Nightmare Before Christmas" cult favorites Jack Skellington and Sally.

Even Borat is pictured in the gallery of possibilities.

"He's such a distinct-looking character," Hong says of the alter ego of comic Sacha Baron Cohen. "You can see it immediately: gray suit, mustache, puffy hair."

And if you still can't decide, you can take the Halloween Costume Quiz and let Fandango offer four choices based on your answers.

Who knows? You may just be a Capt. Jack Sparrow after all.

AARRRRRRRGGHH!

For tips on speaking or translating pirate talk, visit

www.talklikeapirateday.com/translate.

Sandra Barrera of the Los Angeles Daily News contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer Michael G. Mooney can be reached at mmooney@modbee.com or 578-2384.

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