Boo! Revelers celebrate the spookiest of holidays

Bruce Springsteen performs during a rally Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008, on the campus of Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio. Springsteen was in town to encourage Barack Obama supporters to register and take advantage of Ohio’s early voting period. (AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Thousands of revelers dressed as everything from goblins to pizza slices turned out for Greenwich Village's Halloween parade, reveling in a tradition equal parts spookiness and spoof.

But real-world concerns intruded a bit on the fanciful festivities, billed as the nation's biggest Halloween celebration. The financial crisis scared at least seven major parade sponsors into pulling their support, and even some spectators scaled back.

Michael Whalen wanted to dress as the vampire Lestat. Instead, Whalen donned a costume he could create cheaply: "Born in the U.S.A."-era Bruce Springsteen, in white T-shirt and blue jeans, carrying a cardboard guitar.

"I have no money to spend a lot on a costume," said Whalen, 33, of Brooklyn. "It feels great to make your own costume. It's about the creativity."

Creativity was in plentiful supply at the parade, a 35-year-old custom in a community known for its bohemian lifestyle. The parade was started in 1973 as a neighborhood event and now features as many as 60,000 costumed participants.

Organizers estimate the spectacle draws 2 million people such as Daniela Petrova, 35, who came expecting "a freak show."

One participant dressed as a "kissing booth" - price: 25 cents. Another came as exercise guru Richard Simmons.

In a nod to the financial times, at least one participant was dressed as a banker.

Organizers said the parade budget was half of last year's. Some major sponsors, which donate $25,000 and up for large floats, said they couldn't afford it.

Elsewhere, Halloween turned violent. A 12-year-old boy trick-or-treating with his family in Sumter, S.C., was killed by shots fired from inside a home Friday and his father and brother were wounded, authorities said. A suspect was in custody and police called the shooting an isolated incident.

On New York's Long Island, a homeowner was beaten and robbed of cash after he opened his front door to three costumed men - including one dressed as Superman - who were pretending to be trick-or-treaters.

Police said the victim was struck on the head and bound, but he was able to free himself and go to a neighbor's house for help. He was treated for a minor head laceration.

In Detroit, vigilance by fire officials and volunteers appeared to have kept the number of arsons low on the night before Halloween, which had become notorious as "Devil's Night."

A mayoral spokesman said 65 of the 96 fires reported Thursday through late Friday were suspicious. The total reported was consistent with last year. At its peak in 1984, 810 fires were reported in Detroit from Oct. 29 to 31, fueled by Devil's Night's growing notoriety and the city's large number of abandoned buildings.