Sixteen-year-old Garrett Warfield of Corona was hoping to make a political statement this Halloween. But the political figure he wanted to mock was nowhere on the wall at the teeming Costume Castle in Lake Forest.
"Where's Bush?" Warfield shouted to his two friends. "He can't be gone, can he?"
Indeed, likenesses of the president had long since disappeared from the shelves, disappointing last-minute shoppers like Warfield. There wasn't much interest in other political faces. The first lady remained available in multiples, part of a political display that included Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, national security advisor Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney, each of them looking for a home.
"Nah, I don't care about any of them," Warfield said. "It's Bush's decisions that are costing us billions of dollars."
Determined to carry through on his anti-establishment theme, Warfield wandered off, searching for a costume of the pope.
Several shoppers scrambling for last-minute costume ideas came hunting for latex mugs of Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger, but there were none to be found.
"Much to my chagrin, I never had any Arnold masks," store manager Matt Wallin said. "By the time the recall hit, it was too late to order them."
But most shoppers who waited until the final hours steered clear of the political scene.
"I don't like to get into politics when I'm trying to have fun," said Megan Cook, 23, of Newport Beach as she picked through the wigs. "I'm looking for something to go with my devil costume."
Store clerks said devils and the Grim Reaper were big hits this year but nowhere near as popular as "Pirates of the Caribbean" costumes. The Costume Castle and other stores said they've been sold out of everything related to the popular movie for weeks.
"Pirates are big every year, but this is the biggest pirate year I've ever seen," Wallin said. "Adults and kids were buying up eye patches, hats with cross bones and pirate shirts."
The unquestionable dud costume of the year was Elvis. It appears the white suit and the black wig are finally out of style. "Not one of those costumes has been touched," clerk Tyra Good said. "Elvis is not in the building."
By the end of the day, anything remotely trendy was gone from the shelves. So Marisha Barnette and Tullio Ceccarelli, both 18, decided to go as a Playboy bunny and Hugh Hefner.
"Hugh is always in style, no matter how old he is," Ceccarelli said. "And I didn't really want to be Arnold."