Carnival decorations abound

  • This undated photo from Chicago-based art studio Parachute 429, shows an eye-catching poster that would make great Halloween décor. (Terry Hoffman via AP)

  • A resin circus elephant candleholder by Grandin Road. AP

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

  • This undated photo provided by Grandin Road shows their "Bernard the Butler," who welcomes visitors to your Halloween carnival in a rakish velvet jacket, with a raven on his shoulder. The motion-sensor activated duo share cheeky banter, while the candle "flames" and raven's eyes light up.(www.grandinroad.com via AP)

  • This undated photo provided by Grandin Road shows a vintage style doorbell which 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.(www.grandinroad.com via AP)

Associated Press
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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 decor 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. (grandinroad.com)

Vintage circus and funhouse posters are colorful and eye-catching, and you’ll find a variety of them on Etsy.com. For example: Chicago artist Terry Hoffman’s studio, Parachute 425, offers a gothic art “Freak Show” poster in a palette of carnival hues. (etsy.com/shop/parachute425)

Reproductions of early circus posters with roaring tigers and grinning clowns can be found at ringlingonlinestore.com. 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. (etsystudio.com)

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. (partycity.com)

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. (orientaltrading.com)

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. (spirithalloween.com)

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

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. (etsy.com/shop/CupcakesCottage)

And for women, Kirsteen Wythe, a costume designer in Norwich, England, hand-crafts sumptuously detailed red and blue velvet corsets embellished with gold detailing. (etsy.com/shop/KirsteenWythe)