Rochelle as a little girl dressed as a red devil for Halloween.

Humans of CLI: The Halloween Time Warp with Rochelle Kaufman

Rochelle as a little girl dressed as a red devil for Halloween.
A devilish Rochelle jabs her pitchfork toward the camera.

Every Halloween after trick-or-treating, my family would let me watch the first 30 minutes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show before sending me to bed full of sugar, and adrenaline, and songs. One would think that the COVID-19 pandemic would put a damper on this year’s festivities, but the opposite seems to be true. Folks are looking forward to Halloween more than ever, and are finding new, clever ways to (safely) celebrate with holiday spirit.

I sometimes think of Halloween as the first of the ”Big Five” holidays (followed by Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve/Day, and Valentine’s Day) that bring us together at the end and start of each year, that reminds us to smile and have fun.

We’re checking in with marketing support specialist Rochelle Kaufman, a ghoul girl through and through, to find out what makes the spooky season so special!

It’s spooky time

Do you have any Halloween traditions?

Rochelle: I always dress up. Whether I’m at work or school, even if I decide to stay in and pass out candy between episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, I’m at least going to do it in a blue wig and a tutu. My mom would always get really excited about carving our jack-o’-lantern and roasting the pumpkin seeds. I haven’t done that in a long time, but I’m really looking forward to it this year!

Related: Celebrating Death: From Día de los Muertos to the Hungry Ghost Festival

What spooky movie(s) do you just have to watch every year?

Rochelle: It doesn’t quite feel like October to me if I don’t watch The Addams Family, Hocus Pocus, and The Shining. I also have to watch the full-length “Thriller” music video, which is basically a short film, on Halloween night.

Can you tell us about a favorite costume you’ve worn/made?

Little Rochelle dressed in a witches costume stands next to her aunt who's dressed as a red devil.
A tiny and witchy Rochelle stands with her aunt on a spooky ’90s Halloween night.

Rochelle: Well, I’ve been a witch a few times over the years, but actually I won a costume contest as one in 7th grade — I had a pointy hat, wore my grandma’s cape, and lost my broom during lunch. It’s a fun aesthetic to play with and can really look any way you like.

Honestly, some of my favorite costumes were ones I pulled from my closet or thrifted. I sew a bit, so I end up altering a lot of pieces, but the biggest project I’ve attempted from scratch was an oversized hooded onesie (also known as a kigurumi). I hadn’t done anything like that before, so there were a lot of elements that I had to figure out as I went along.

Have you ever had an unexplainable experience with the supernatural?

Rochelle: Fortunately no, at least I don’t think I have . . . Well, there was that time my friend and I felt “strongly encouraged” to leave the Lone Fir Cemetery at dusk, even though we were pretty sure we were the only ones there. If living in a haunted house is anything like that, I think I’d rather stay clear of all that.

Would you rather get bitten by a werewolf, zombie, or vampire?

Rochelle: Vampire. I’m not outdoorsy enough to be a werewolf, and I don’t like my steaks rare.

For better or worse, how has COVID-19 changed what Halloween looks like for you this year?

A pile of clementine fruit with drawn on jack-o'-lantern faces sit on Rochelle's decorated desk at CLI.
A pile of “pumpkins” sit on Rochelle’s decorated desk at CLI.

Rochelle: COVID has challenged us all to get creative about how we do everything these past few months, and Halloween will be no exception. I definitely feel like there’s less pressure to go to one big, perfect event this year, which is honestly nice for a change; Halloween gets kind of expensive for me usually, but not this year! It’s given me the opportunity to help shape a couple of distance celebrations with friends locally and with family via Zoom, and that really wouldn’t be the case if not for the quarantine.

Million-dollar question: Is Halloween one night only, a month-long engagement, or a lifestyle?

Rochelle: It’s a lifestyle! We all know someone who is really “good” at Halloween, the friend who practices their latex wounds weeks in advance or the coworker who wins most elaborate desk decorations every year; the folks who always know the most obscure scary movies and still talk about that time they worked in a haunted house. For them, there’s too much excitement for one day or even a month!