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Feds warn about dangerous, illegal Halloween costume item

Halloween is known for its share of tricks and treats, but you might be unknowingly participating in illegal activity.

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Federal law enforcement authorities have issued a consumer warning against counterfeit decorative contact lenses popular at Halloween, cracking down and seizing the illegal items before they enter the country.

The products often are not FDA approved and can cause significant damage to the eyes, including temporary blindness and infections.

"You never want to put these devices onto your eyes," said assistant director of homeland security investigations Bruce Foucart. "You never want to put skin creams onto your body if you don't know where they are coming from."

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FDA, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection teamed up to carry out Operation Double Vision.

The mission was to seize as many counterfeit contact lenses as possible.

Since the group's inception in 2012, they have confiscated about 100,000 pairs of unapproved contact lenses, but the numbers are not slowing down.

"We've seen more seizures, unfortunately," Foucart said.

The availability of the lenses on the internet has made them especially easy to order.

"And as a result, it keeps us busy," he said.

During the months leading up to Halloween, authorities step up their efforts against counterfeit contacts.

"Counterfeiters will use every ruse possible to get you to buy that product," Foucart said.

Without a prescription and FDA approval on the product, consumers are purchasing counterfeit products and putting themselves at risk, even if the retailer says medical authorization is not required.

For those who want blood-shot red eyes to complement vampire costumes this year, your local optometrist can prescribe you the proper colored contacts.

Need help around the house? Companies offer costumed cleaners

If you want to tidy up your house without breaking out of the Halloween spirit, a handful of specialty cleaning businesses may have what you're looking for. Multiple companies are offering cleaners in costume.

>> Read more trending stories

Here's a look at a few of them:

My Model Maid, Connecticut: My Model Maid launched this month in Connecticut with 11 maids and three costumes. The company hires models between the ages of 19 and 30 to clean people's homes while dressed as a French maid, Wonder Woman, a cheerleader or a schoolgirl.

"I wanted a fun alternative to housecleaning," owner Josh Dailey, 31, told the Connecticut Post.

Have My Model Maid help host your next party or have your own personal cheerleader on GameDay! We'll serve all your drinks/apps and even handle the cleanup. Contact Us today to book or additional information 860-806-7777 A photo posted by My Model Maid (@mymodelmaid) on Oct 18, 2016 at 9:22am PDT <script async defer src="//"></script>

The company has gotten some criticism from people who believe the cleaning service is degrading for women; however, 29-year-old Model Maid Katie Weinstein told the Post that isn't the case.

"I find it a little funny," she told the newspaper. "In Connecticut, it's a little conservative. This would be wonderful to have in Manhattan."

Meanwhile, she said she's only gotten positive reactions from customers.

"They're like 'Oh my God, I can't believe you're here,'" she told the Post. "People just love costumes. It's a novelty; it's no different than a singing telegram. It's similar to having a clown at a children's birthday party."

The Costumed Cleaners, California: In the San Luis Obispo area, a cleaning business offers customers the chance to get their homes tidied by anything from a French maid to a Marvel superhero.

"Our main goal is to provide a fun way to clean your house using homemade eco-friendly cleaning products, and we pride ourselves on being able to put a smile on your face in the process," wrote The Costumed Cleaners owner Rocky De La Rosa on the company's website.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> Finally got some "sample" pics to share. These are only SOME of the costumes.Posted by The Costumed Cleaners on Monday, August 31, 2015

The cleaning service offers 14 costumes for customers to choose from, a combination of De La Rosa's passion for dressing up, making her own products, cleaning and making people happy.

"We pride ourselves (on) being professionals, and operate our business by the book," the company said on its Facebook page. "All of our costumes are sexy, but tasteful."

Men in Kilts, multiple locations: Across the U.S. and Canada, multiple men don black shirts and kilts as part of the Men in Kilts outdoor cleaning workforce. They provide a variety of services, including window washing, gutter cleaning and pressure washing. Their uniforms include black shirts with a teasing slogan on them: "No Peeking!"

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>

"All the guys are stand-up guys, but the girls love to flirt. I'll tell you that. They love to flirt," Houston Men in Kilts franchise owner Bob Cavnar told the Austin American-Statesman in April. "(People) like to joke about the guys wearing kilts and being up on ladders, and what are you wearing under the kilt. But of course, we never answer that question."

Canadian Nicholas Brand, the son of a Scottish immigrant, launched his window cleaning company in 2002 and chose to put his cleaners in kilts to "put a visual to the otherwise faceless window cleaner."

The company has since opened multiple locations, including shops in Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, California and Washington.

12 last-minute DIY Halloween costumes you can pull off in 1 hour

Maybe you were invited to a Halloween party at the last minute. Perhaps Halloween snuck up on you, and by the time you went searching for the perfect costume, the stores were pretty much picked over. Fear not, you still have time to create these last-minute costume ideas on a whim! As in, an hour or less once you have the supplies.

>> Read more trending stories  

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <script src="//;border=false"></script> [View the story "12 last-minute DIY Halloween costumes you can pull off in 1 hour" on Storify]

Thousands take to social media, vow to boycott Black Thursday

Thousands of people are vowing to spend Thanksgiving Day anywhere but in a store through a Facebook page called "Boycott Black Thursday."

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The page on Tuesday shared an image of a button that said "I'm not shopping on Thanksgiving Day!" The image was shared nearly 50,000 times by Thursday afternoon and had more than 12,000 reactions.

The message resonated with shoppers and retailer workers alike.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> SHARE to tell the world!Want to wear this button proudly - in real life? Buy it here and a portion of your purchase will go to charity! by Boycott Black Thursday on Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"I remember my dad making sure the car was filled up the day before holidays. ... because a lot of service stations were closed," Jim Snyder wrote in response to the post. "Amazing how we have become a country where every opportunity to sell is exploited and any desire to purchase must be satiated."

Black Thursday is the name given to sales that run on Thanksgiving Day, a spinoff of traditional Black Friday sales.

"I'm not shopping because I'll (be) working," Darlene Spurlock wrote on the "Boycott Black Thursday" post. "Not all retailers (are) getting the message. So when (you) shop, we can't enjoy the day with our families like you do. Boycott Black Thursday, so we can all enjoy the holiday with family and friends!"

Thanksgiving Day sales at brick-and-mortar stores dropped from just over $2 billion in 2014 to $1.8 billion last year, according to Practical Ecommerce. Citing retail research firm ShopperTrak, Practical Ecommerce reported a 10 percent drop in shopping at "physical stores," although it noted that digital sales on Thanksgiving Day were "up by double digits."

Get your scare on: Here are real haunted places you can stay

If one of those fake "haunted house" locations aren't enough for to scare you out of your socks, you can always check in to a real haunted hotel. came up with a list that may have rooms with unexpected chills and creepy corners that may have you thinking someone is there. 

Hotel Parq Central is first on the list. Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the luxury hotel was originally a former rail yard hospital that was eventually used as a psychiatric ward for children. There are rumors that the patients once housed there are still among the entities. Both employees and guests say they've heard strange whispers and feelings of being watched.

>> Read more trending stories  

The Marshall House, located in Savannah, Georgia, was once used by the Union Army during the Civil War. It was also used during yellow fever epidemics. Guests say the spirits of children run the hallways at night. Ghosts still walk around the hotel and the faucets turn on by themselves. The Marshall House embraces its haunts and offers Halloween stays that include talks about the history of the building.

The Stanley Hotel was made famous by Stephen King and his book "The Shining." As the hotel's history goes, King and his wife checked in for a one night stay in the Estes Park, Colorado, resort. They were the only ones on property. King was inspired to write the novel of the haunted hotel after that stay.

>>Read: Man snaps haunting photo at ‘The Shining’ hotel

The Hotel Del Coronado was made famous by the movie "Some Like It Hot." One woman, according to the hotel's website, never checked out. Kate Morgan is said to still roam the halls of the luxury beach-front hotel in Coronado, California. Morgan was at the hotel in 1892. She was seen having an argument on the train ride from Los Angeles to San Diego. He abandoned her during that trip. But she still checked in to the hotel. She went into San Diego to reportedly buy a handgun. The San Diego coroner said she died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Guests and employees see flickering lights, a television that turns itself on and off, changes in temperature and footsteps and voices. Paranormal researchers have documented supernatural activity in Morgan's room using gadgets like infrared cameras and night vision goggles.

Stay on Main was formerly known as Cecil Hotel. It is said to be the inspiration behind "American Horror Story: Hotel." As the Cecil, it was the home to at least two serial killers -- "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger. A woman also is said to have killed herself by jumping from a hotel room, landing on and killing a pedestrian on the sidewalk below. Another woman was choked to death in the mid 60s. Her case was never solved. One story goes, a man was staying there and woke up in the middle of the night feeling like he was being choked. He said the felt the hands of an unseen person around his neck. After describing what happened to the hotel clerk, the employee said someone had been murdered in that room. Another creepy story was that of Elisa Lam, who disappeared from the hotel on Jan. 31, 2013. Her body was found more than two weeks later after guests told management that the water tasted strange. Lam's body was found in one of the roof-top water tanks, CNN reported

Not on the list, but still scary:

Save Halloween pumpkins with these three hacks

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Pumpkins are multiplying, appearing on stoops, sidewalks and porches across the nation.

But if you carve them too early before Halloween they will not last until the trick-or-treaters go door to door.

>> Read more trending stories  

But there are three simple tips that could keep your jack-o-lantern from going from a bright orange gourd to a rotting mess.

All you need is a sharp knife, some Vaseline and bleach.

Find out how combining those three things will keep your pumpkin all smiles for the next few weeks by watching the video below:

How a teal pumpkin can save a child's life

When you have a child with allergies, the fun and excitement of Halloween can become overshadowed by the haunting worry about hidden ingredients and undisclosed allergens in the candy your little one collects.

Some children with ADHD or autism also have certain dietary restrictions that prohibit eating candy, especially in the quantity involved around Halloween.

For these children, Halloween is a time of frustration instead of celebration.

>> Read more trending stories  

FARE (Food, Allergy, Research & Education) and the Teal Pumpkin Project understand the challenges parents and children face during this candy-filled holiday, and have continued a nationwide movement to offer an alternative for children who cannot partake in the usual fare.

By encouraging families to offer non-food options this Halloween, like scented pencils, stickers, small toys and erasers, the Teal Pumpkin Project hopes to transform this holiday into something every child can enjoy and participate in.

Want to take part? Here's how you can have a safe and fun Halloween this year!

  • Join more than 100,000 families by pledging your support for the Teal Pumpkin Project.
  • Paint and display a teal pumpkin, which shows that you support allergy awareness and a food-free Halloween. Make sure to print out a free sign from FARE to place next to your pumpkin.
  • Offer only non-food items at your door for trick-or-treaters this year.

If you really want to help take charge of Halloween, you can spread awareness of Halloween-related food allergies by holding your own fundraiser. The Teal Pumpkin Project suggests a few easy ways to raise money, including hosting your own pumpkin walk, a teal pumpkin painting party, a teal-painted pumpkin sale, neighborhood collections, and having a food and candy-free Halloween party.

For more information, contact FARE and Teal Pumpkin Project at 1-800-929-4040.

WATCH: Seahawks' Richard Sherman dresses as Harry Potter to talk football, Quidditch

In true Halloween spirit, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman wore his Harry Potter costume, with wand in hand, to Wednesday’s news conference.

>> Watch the full press conference here

SB Nation reports that it was actually Sherman’s son's idea for his dad to dress up. But there's no doubt that Sherman is a legitimate Harry Potter fan:

  • Sherman says “Order of the Phoenix” is his favorite book.
  • He says that Quidditch is pretty tough compared to five quarters of football.
  • He considers himself a Gryffindor and not a Hufflepuff.
  • According to a New York Times article, he went to midnight screenings for the movies.

>> Read more trending stories

The Seahawks got first their first tie in franchise history Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. 

>> Click here or scroll down to see some of the highlights from the press conference

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <script src="//;border=false"></script> [View the story "WATCH: Seahawks' Richard Sherman dresses as Harry Potter to talk football, Quidditch" on Storify]

>> Check out other great celebrity Halloween costumes here

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Must-see: NICU babies get adorable Halloween treat – tiny costumes

These tiny trick-or-treaters are warming hearts around the country.

According to ABC News, March of Dimes volunteers teamed up with nurses at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, to help NICU babies and their families celebrate Halloween with handmade costumes and other goodies. 

>> Watch the news report here

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“The parents were able to choose their baby’s costumes to match the baby’s personalities,” hospital spokeswoman Michelle Manuel told ABC News. “The idea is to be able to allow parents to have a sense of normalcy."

>> Read more trending stories

Families also received a Halloween card with their costumed cutie's footprints, a Halloween book and candy inside a crocheted pumpkin.

Jennifer Behnke, whose son, William, has been in the NICU since August, called the Halloween treat "amazing."

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

"It's very humbling, and we feel very blessed to have so many people on our side and helping us – and making everyday experiences and milestones feel normal while still being in the hospital here," Behnke told WDAF-TV.

Read more here or here.

>> Click here or scroll down to see the adorable photos

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <script src="//;border=false"></script> [View the story "NICU Halloween" on Storify]

Walmart pulls controversial 'suicide scar' costume makeup amid complaints

Walmart has pulled one of its controversial Halloween accessories after critics slammed it as making light of suicide and self-harm, according to multiple reports.

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More than 600 people signed a petition to have the costume, called "The Razor Blade Suicide Scar Wound Latex Costume Makeup," pulled from Walmart's online listings.

"This is not just a disgrace to the sensitivity to those who suffer from self-harm, but a shame on Walmart for making light of the situation," the petition said. "Suicide is not a joke, not a costume, and not funny. … Many people are life-long sufferers of self-harm. Many are bullied, and now they are being bullied by Walmart. This has to stop."

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The petition was closed Sunday after Walmart released a statement disavowing the costume makeup and pulled it from its online listings.

According to Walmart, the costume was listed on its website by a third-party seller.

"The costume is appalling and it was unacceptable for a third-party seller to list it on our marketplace," Walmart employees said in a statement released to WABC. "It clearly violated our prohibited items policy and we removed it yesterday morning when it was brought to our attention."

WABC identified the third-party seller as BlockBuster Costumes LLC. In a statement on the company's Facebook page, BlockBuster Costumes announced it had taken the offending costume makeup off its website.

"To those contacting us about our suicide costume we've removed the offending product from our site," according to a post made Monday. "It shouldn't have been marketed as such."

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