US Political Conventions: What You Need to Know

  • July 22, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

After talking about them for what seems like forever, the long-awaited United States Political Conventions are finally here! This week the Republican National Convention began on July 18. Next week the Democrats will follow suit with their convention. All you have to do is turn on your television or check out your Twitter feed, and you will easily be able to tune into all the convention hoopla that certainly will ensue. Without a doubt, this year above all others has created a lot of attention around politics. Perhaps you are interested in watching the conventions for the first time--or maybe you just want to know what all the political fuss is about. Today we are going to lay out the basics about the upcoming conventions and tell you what you need to know!

Who, What, Where & When: The United States Political Conventions are held primarily to act as the formal nominating event that chooses each party's Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates. During the conventions for each of the major parties, separate governing rules for the convention are established, and these rules will determine how the nominating process will occur. Every US State and territory has a specific number of apportioned voting representatives for their individual state. These representatives are known as delegates.

Another important function of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions is to spell out the official platforms of each party. A platform specifies the party's basic principles, priorities, and goals along with their general plan of action for the immediate future.

At each of the conventions, you will obviously see many delegates. The Republicans have 2472 voting delegates, while the Democrats have 4765 delegates. Generally speaking, following the primary election process, a frontrunner candidate has come into the convention as the presumptive nominee. Usually, the official nomination that occurs at the convention is just a formality that officially confirms the presumptive nominee as the then official nominee. The Vice Presidential candidate of each party will also be officially nominated.

Over 15,000 representatives from the media will also be present at each of the conventions, their purpose being to report on and cover all the events that happen during the event. Party officials, invited guests, staffers, volunteers, as well as local businesspeople, will also be present to watch each of the conventions.

Each of the respected conventions will have many exciting events. In addition to the open voting that occurs during the convention, you can expect to see keynote speakers, rallies and perhaps even a few political protests.

No matter what your political views may be, the Republican and Democratic conventions are an excellent way to learn about each of the nominated Presidential candidates and their respected platforms. You won't want to miss these unique events as these political conventions only happen once every four years. Significant and vital history is sure to be made!

To help you get into the spirit of the US Political Conventions, we have put together a massive collection of costumes, masks, accessories and politically-themed gear. With candidate masks, hats, patriotic accessories, and many other fabulous items to choose from, you can easily get into the spirit of the conventions, and even start rooting for your preferred candidate!


Hair Raising Facts about Colonial Wigs

  • July 13, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

Throughout history, men and women have enjoyed a virtual cornucopia of hairstyles.  Some of the more noteworthy and perhaps unusual historical hair foibles occurred during the 1700’s.  What in the world was up with all those massive coifs of curls?  And why oh why, did Colonial men often sport bow tied ponytails?  And finally, what was the deal with all that white, powdery hair?  Today we will attempt to clear the “hair” on all those nagging questions about Colonial hairdos.  Some of the harebrained answers may surprise you! 

Take a close look at a dollar bill. What do you see?  A perfectly coifed George Washington, right?  When looking at George Washington’s legendary hairstyle, you may assume that the Father of the Country was sporting a well-crafted wig.  After all, it was very common for most well-positioned gentlemen of the Colonial era to wear one.  George, however, did not wear a wig.  In fact, George’s hair was his own--grown long in the back and tied conveniently into a queue.  (That is a fancy name for what is essentially a ponytail.)  George used a thick pomade to mold his hair into a particular shape--in his case, some rather cute little curls on the sides, with a long queue tied in the back, hanging down long.  Once perfectly shaped, George heavily powdered the entire look with a white hair powder.  Wa-la!  The result is George Washington’s great Colonial hairstyle.  Admittedly, by today’s standards, most hairdos of this era look a little feminine or even a bit sissy.  Back in the 1700’s, however, these long locks with curlicue sides were all the rage.  Believe it or not, back in his day, George Washington’s particular hair look was considered to be a strong military style--sort of like the equivalent of today’s military buzz cut.  Those long pulled back ponytails were deemed to be not only fashionable but also very manly.

Obviously, not all men were able to grow long, luxurious locks.  Men and women of the eighteenth century had many challenges when it came to hair that thankfully, most folks don’t experience today.  In the 1700’s, there was a general aversion to bathing and most folks bathed very infrequently.  The result of this lack of hygiene is especially detrimental to hair.  Hair often became infested with lice, and because it hadn’t been washed, it often smelled quite rancid.  Other factors common at the time also inhibited hair growth.  Syphilis was spreading at epidemic rates during those days.  Infected individuals would often have rashes, head sores, and most notably, baldness.  Additionally, some men just went bald naturally.  Wigs enabled folks to have fashion-appropriate hair no matter what other issues may be at play.  A good wig became a fashion necessity for any person of means who wanted to retain their trendy good looks.  A wig solved a whole plethora of problems when it came to getting the hairstyle “just right.”

Whether a person chose to wear his or her natural hair or to wear a wig--usually thick pomade made from animal fat and a very strong fragrance was used to style the hair.  Once perfectly coifed, sometimes the hair was then doused with a white powder to finish off the look.  This white powder was made from various things, including wheat flour or sometimes dried white clay.  Interestingly enough, once the powder was applied to the wig, any fast movements by the individual, or even a stiff wind could result in powder being sprayed everywhere like a miniature snowstorm.  Thus, it became necessary for folks of the time to move around with great care and with a bit of gentility to keep the powdered hair in line. 

Like most high fashion looks that have come and gone throughout the ages, these heavily styled hair looks and wigs were primarily available to the most influential and affluent member of society.  Wigs were made by the local colonial wigmaker and were considered to be an expensive luxury item that could be afforded only by the most successful businessmen and gentry.  Some wigs were very expensive; this depended of course on the quality of the wig, the intricacy of the style and what type of hair was used to construct the wig.  The most desirable wigs were made from human hair--but usually, the wigs were made of horse, goat or yak hair. 

After the Revolutionary War, toward the end of the eighteenth century, powdered wigs (also known as Perukes) started to fall out of fashion.  The Brits had instituted a levy on hair powder, and the overall hair fashion trend went toward a much more natural looking hair rather than a powdered white. 

Getting a great Colonial hairstyle today is certainly a lot easier than it was in those historic days of yesteryear.  At Halloween Express, our massive collection of easy to wear wigs contains many wig styles that replicate those amazing Colonial looks of long ago--along with hundreds of other wig styles as well.  Finding the right wig at Halloween Express is easy--no smelly pomade or powder necessary! 

Hair Raising Facts about Colonial Wigs

Who You Gonna Call? GHOSTBUSTERS!

  • July 05, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

Do you believe in ghosts?  And if you do, are you afraid of those same ghosts?  And finally, what would you do if paranormal activity in your city had completely run amok and ghosts were literally, everywhere?  Anyone who lived through the summer of 1984 already knows the answer to the famous battle cry, “Who You Gonna Call?”  The answer then, as it is now--is, of course, to call the Ghostbusters!  Back in 1984, the original film, “Ghostbusters,” quickly catapulted itself into being an all-time comedy classic.  Thirty-two years later, this summer’s new reboot of the popular ghostbusting tale promises to introduce Dan Aykroyd’s concept of the Ghostbusters to a whole new generation.  Here are a few fun facts to get you ready for the big Ghostbuster’s premiere! 

Once upon a time, Dan Aykroyd was very curious about ghosts.  One day, while reading in an actual scientific journal about the paranormal, Dan came upon an article about the concept of trapping ghosts.   Reading about this, Dan came up with an idea that apparently turned out to be an excellent one.  Ghost-hunting, ghost trapping or as it is known today, “ghost-busting” was adapted into a crazy, scary-fun adventure that features a paranormal battle between human beings--and those mysterious things that go bump in the night.  The resulting 1984 film, “Ghostbusters” was one of the greatest films of 1984 and arguably of the last three decades.  Ghostbusters 2016 hopes to recapture the fun and ghostly spirit of this epic comedy classic.

In 1984, the Ghostbuster crew consisted of four male Ghostbusters and one female receptionist.  The first notable change in this summer’s version is a complete reversal in casting.  The 2016 Ghostbusters stars four women members making up the crew, with a cute male receptionist closely by their side.  Like the original film, the Ghostbusters roles are played by some of the most well-known and beloved comedic actors in Hollywood.  Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon round out the all-female ghost-busting ensemble, creating what could be the funniest group of gals ever to fight against malevolent paranormal forces.  Get ready for a wild, not to mention slimy ride--some of the travel being done in a Hearst that’s been appropriately transformed into the legendary Ecto 1. 

The new Ghostbusters also takes place in New York City, and that is where the story begins.  Two unknown writers, Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig) once wrote a barely noticed book about ghosts being real.  After being hired at Columbia University, Erin’s book is maliciously resurrected, and the stuffy academics at the University ridicule poor Gilbert out of the school in utter humiliation.  Conveniently and soon afterward, a device that amplifies paranormal activity is victimizing Manhattan.  A determined Gilbert and Yates then join forces with a nuclear engineer, Jillian Holzmann  (Kate McKinnon) and subway worker, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) to form the Ghostbusters.  These crazy girls step into action and vow to do something to try and eradicate the ghost problem--but before they do, you just know that things are going to get messy.  (As in a green and very slimy kind of messy.) 

With a film budget of about 154 million dollars, you can expect to see a lot of ghost-busting action as well as exciting special effects.  Cameo appearances by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Ozzy Osbourne, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts are also something to watch for.

If there’s something strange in your neighborhood--who you gonna call?  Ghostbusters. 

Ghostbusters 2016:  In a theater near you on July 16, 2016.

Independence Day: Star Spangled Facts

  • June 28, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

The long-awaited Fourth of July holiday weekend is upon us.  A hallmark holiday of summer, for most of us, the Fourth of July means carnivals, parades, barbecues, picnics, and of course, lots and lots of fireworks displays.  No matter how you intend to celebrate summer’s favorite holiday, understand that there is a lot of history that goes into Independence Day.  How much do you know about the Fourth of July?  What does “Independence Day” actually mean?  Before you head out to your family cookout and fireworks show, there are a few things about the Fourth that we think you should know!

The Second of July? Technically speaking, the Declaration of Independence was voted on by the Continental Congress on the second day of July 1776.  The document took two days to draft, complete and sign, this being done on July 4, 1776.  Some of the original forefathers felt that the Independence Day holiday should occur on the day of the vote, not the date the document was complete.  Since this time, however, and in spite of any initial disagreement, the Fourth of July has been marked as the definitive birthday of America.

Let Freedom Ring!  The first Independence Day celebration was held in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776.  On this remarkably important day in history, the famous liberty bell pealed for the first time, and there was a live reading of the newly created Declaration of Independence. 

Born on the Fourth of July! One President can claim the most patriotic day of the year is his birthday.  Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872. 

Go Out With a Bang!  Believe it or not, three presidents actually died on the Fourth of July.  These include John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, and James Monroe, who died on July 4, 1831. 

Bombs Bursting in Air!  Fireworks and various pyrotechnics have been an integral part of Fourth of July celebrations since 1777. These days, on Independence Day, there will be over 14,000 fireworks presentations held around the United States. 

Make it Official!  Although the Fourth of July technically has been considered a holiday since 1870, in 1941 Congress officially declared Independence Day a federal legal holiday.  The Fourth of July is one of only four national holidays that occur on the same calendar date each and every year.

Party, American-Style!  The earliest Fourth of July celebrations had a lot in common with our modern day festivities.  Parades, music, and fireworks have long been a part of patriotic holiday fun.  In the earliest days, artillery salutes, public readings of the Declaration of Independence and even mock funerals for King George were commonly a part of planned Independence Day activities.

Fun Fast Facts! Thomas Jefferson wrote the majority of the Declaration of Independence, and then fifty-six people subsequently signed the document.  There is a little-known message written upside down and backward on the back of the original parchment. It reads, “Original Declaration of Independence date 4th of July, 1776.”  No one knows who wrote this message or why it there in the first place.  At the time of the writing of the Declaration of Independence, there were 2.5 million people living in the United States.  Today there are nearly 320 million inhabitants in the USA! 

Happy Birthday, America!  2016 will mark the 240th birthday of our beloved United States of America. 

Happy Independence Day from your friends at Halloween Express!


Why You Will ADORE “Finding Dory”

  • June 17, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

It’s hard to imagine that thirteen years have passed since Disney’s hit animated adventure, “Finding Nemo” thrilled audiences around the globe.  Grossing over 921 million dollars, “Finding Nemo” was destined for a sequel--and now the wait is finally over!  Today, June 17, Pixar Animation and Walt Disney Studios will (finally) release “Finding Dory” and we couldn’t be more excited!

“Finding Dory” begins about six months from where “Finding Nemo” left off.  Absent-minded Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) is the central character in this latest chapter of Disney's charming animated tale. Dory, notoriously forgetful, has been contentedly living in the reef with her clownfish buddies, Marlin, and Nemo.  One day, it dawns on Dory that she thinks she probably has a family--and they might even be looking for her.  This realization is where Dory’s epic adventure begins.

Dory enlists the help of her pals, Nemo and Marlin and heads to the California Marine Life Institute.  Once at the Institute, Dory meets some new friends who promise to assist her in her search to find her parents.  Dory forms friendships with Hank, a rather cranky Octopus, Bailey a Beluga Whale who is convinced her whale sonar skills are askew, and Destiny, a visually impaired Whale Shark. 

The writers of “Finding Dory” in no way use the disabilities or impairments of the central characters as a way to make fun of them.  Instead, the challenges faced by these characters are highlighted compassionately, demonstrating how each of them deals with their struggles while working hard to overcome the obstacles that they must endure as part of daily life.

“Finding Dory” has been a long time coming.  An unbelievable amount of loving detail and attention has gone into the creation of this film.  For example, the animators of “Finding Dory” spent hours at large aquariums studying and observing the behaviors of fish and other sea life.  Fish behavior was analyzed to gain accurate insights into how these mesmerizing creatures live, move and interact with other sea animals. 

Do you want to see a sneak preview of “Finding Dory”?  Here's the fabulous traile. 

Grab the kids and head to your local theater.  “Finding Dory” should be swimmingly easy!   

 

Why You Will ADORE “Finding Dory”