While certainly not as overhyped from a consumer perspective as Christmas, the holiday this week is looked forward to greatly by children and many young-at-heart. Halloween combines the magic of fantasy and the allure of sweets along with permission to dress up as any character one desires.

Want to parade about town as a princess? That's OK. So is donning a Chewbacca costume and lying in wait to frighten anybody approaching the porch where you're lurking about. Ghosts, witches, mummies and cowboys are sure to be seen Wednesday. Pranks also rule the day, although those tend to be more of an adult preoccupation.

Halloween attracts a host of societal warnings that are different from other holidays. Christmastime brings admonitions of overindulgence or not remembering the reason for the season. Thanksgiving offers reminders about tryptophan's natural effects. Halloween brings all manner of safety tips.

Americans have yet to over-sanitize this autumn classic, which we hope never happens. Still, there are some commonsense tips offered by the Centers for Disease Control that parents should insist upon and everybody should abide by:

* Ensure costumes are neither flammable nor prone to obstructing vision. Makeup is preferred over masks, and reflective tape is a must so others can see the little goblins. Sharp, pointed objects should be avoided.

* Children under 12 should be with an adult. Cross streets at corners, hold hands and only approach well-lit residences.

* Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.

* Drivers should pay particular attention Halloween night. Statistics reveal pedestrian-vehicle accidents increase on Halloween compared to other days. Slow down and pay particularly close attention.

The tips are much more numerous, although these are the primary ones to highlight. We don't wish to be part of scaring the fun out of such a popular holiday. All we wish is for the day and night to pass without incident.

Happy Halloween!

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net