McALLEN — Local Halloween stores may see one of their busiest of spooky seasons yet, perhaps their largest in a decade according to at least one store manager, who’s already seen more interest this year after the COVID-19 pandemic soured the fun in 2020.

Homer Martinez, general manager of JJ’s Party House in McAllen, said it’s refreshing to see people back in the stores after last year’s county mandate basically canceled Halloween amid the pandemic.

“I think people are just really itching to go out and really kind of celebrate,” Martinez said Saturday. “Last year the government was so aggressive, going so far as to cancel Halloween, which really hurt the industry.”

Lines outside of the local Spirit Halloween store also indicate that the public is in fact ready to get into the Halloween spirit.

Halloween masks are displayed as customers shop at JJ’s Party House on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

The store had a line of over 20 people at one point waiting to enter the store. Spirit Halloween employees were only allowing 125 people inside at a time as a COVID-19 precaution.

“They are carrying about like this is the first Halloween they’ve been to in a very long time,” Martinez said about the multitudes purchasing costumes both in the store and online.

He believes people “are sick and tired of staying home and being told to stay home.”

Rachel Flores, a Rio Grande Valley native, was at Spirit Halloween on Saturday masked, and searching for a costume for her son’s Halloween party, which was canceled last year due to high COVID cases at the time.

Flores said she feels more confident going out now that she is vaccinated against COVID-19 and believes the community should slowly begin to go back to life before the pandemic.

“If people are vaccinated then we need to slowly start going back to the norm,” she said. “There’s only so much you can do.”

Anna Garza, a mother of two toddlers, shared similar sentiments about the return to celebrating.

“We already learned how to live with a mask on, not that we like it, but you kind of live through it and learn how to take care of yourself being around people,” Garza said.

Garza said it has felt like she and her family spent an entire year staying idle, and now that they are vaccinated they are looking forward to getting back together to give her children a proper Halloween.

Hanging decorations are displayed as customers shop at JJ’s Party House on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

That thought is one that stuck with 24-year-old Michael Lucio from Harlingen, who was shopping at JJ’s Party House for a costume and said the fall season brings him a certain sense of nostalgia from when he was a child.

Lucio said around this time of year he would be planning a trick or treating route for him and his sister to take on Halloween.

Fast forward to 2021, while searching for the coolest mask in the shop, customers enter already sporting their own masks to protect themselves.

As someone who studied film in college, Lucio said he enjoys the costume part of Halloween and was particularly impressed with a Michael Myers mask at JJ’s that caught his eye.

“It’s just nice to see because the masks I grew up with were the cheap plastic with a string in the back, so it’s nice to see that get better,” he said.

This year, Lucio plans to take his little cousins trick or treating in their neighborhood.

Samantha Rodriguez, mother of five, was at JJ’s looking for a costume for her 12-year-old daughter Grace, who was excited to get back in the Halloween spirit after their neighborhood party was canceled last year.

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