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Halloween themes include creepy carnivals

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    This photo from Chicago-based art studio Parachute 425, shows an eye-catching poster that would make great Halloween décor. TERRY HOFFMAN VIA AP

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    A resin circus elephant expertly balances a candleholder on his back. GRANDIN ROAD VIA AP

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    This undated photo provided by Grandin Road shows a carnival-themed tiered stand which makes a great place to display spooky Halloween treats. ( via AP)

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    This vintage style doorbell keeps an eye out — literally — for Halloween guests. The ghoulish green animated eyeball pops open when the button’s pushed, welcoming guests with one of four greetings. GRANDIN ROAD VIA AP

Published October 13. 2017 12:37PM

Films, TV shows and stories, including the current hits “It” and “American Horror Story,” have long imagined a dark side to circuses and side shows. No surprise then that they’re a theme for Halloween decorations.

Vintage imagery of clowns, beasts, scary rides and carnival denizens provide inspiration for seasonal home décor and parties.

Grandin Road, for instance, has a circus tent-style tiered serving dish for treats. A painted resin elephant balances expertly on a stand, a candleholder perched on his back. Vintage-style signs offer palm reading and directions to scary attractions. And there’s a black and white print of a turn-of-the-century fire breather to hang on the wall. ( )

Vintage circus and funhouse posters are colorful and eye-catching, and you’ll find a variety of them on For example: Chicago artist Terry Hoffman’s studio, Parachute 425, offers a gothic art “Freak Show” poster in a palette of carnival hues. ( )

Reproductions of early circus posters with roaring tigers and grinning clowns can be found at The designs come from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus archives.

EtsyStudio has vintage circus images you can download and affix to party favors or invitations. ( )

At Party City, there’s a carnival sign for the yard inviting visitors to “Step Right Up.” A 12-piece, creepy carnival kit comes with double-sided cardboard images of evil clowns, scary games and sideshow posters. Create a spooky circus tent by wrapping a party room with a 40-foot-long roll of fake-blood-spattered, red-striped plastic. ( )

Or set up a sideshow photo booth under Oriental Trading’s 6-foot-tall Big Top Terror standup display. Vintage-style posters with face cutouts would be fun props for a photo booth; guests can be Crabman, Ringmaster, Strongman, Trapeze Artist or Bearded Lady. ( )

Spirit Halloween has a slightly alarming number of scary clowns from which to choose, including a life-size, animatronic one modeled after the fearsome Pennywise of Stephen King’s horror novel (and recent movie) “It.” ( )

Themed snack bowls, napkins, masks, party games and other props can be ordered from

If you’re ready to take charge of your circus-themed Halloween party, consider outfitting yourself as a ringmaster. An Arizona studio, Cupcake’s Cottage, offers an array of colorful, satin-trimmed men’s jackets. ( )

And for women, Kirsteen Wythe, a costume designer in Norwich, England, handcrafts sumptuously detailed red and blue velvet corsets embellished with gold detailing. ( )





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