Customs inspectors on the U.S. southern border are preparing for Halloween night, when - by tradition - there will be an increase in vehicular traffic to ferry witches, mummies, princesses and other characters across the U.S. border to cities such as El Paso.

The spokesman for Customs and Border Protection here, Roger Maier, said that although there are no statistics available on the increase in northbound traffic on Halloween, there is certainly an rise in the number of people seeking to cross from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso.

On that day, the CBP personnel at the ports of entry will undertake to verify the identity of the ghosts, monsters and other characters who this year will cross the border to get together with El Paso residents to go trick or treating.

The border community has been asked to make sure that children who cross the border to go trick or treating remove their masks and not wear makeup that would make their identification more difficult, Maier said.

This requirement applies both to children as well as adults, he said.

According to border residents, despite the fact that in Mexico Halloween is celebrated with costume parties, the custom of trick or treating has not spread there.

Therefore, El Paso neighborhoods each year have traffic tie-ups on Halloween, many of the vehicles bearing Mexican license plates because of the large number of people from the neighboring country who come to the Texas city for the holiday.

Another custom that has spread along the border is that of the Mexico's Day of the Dead celebration, and in cities like El Paso altars are set up in markets and schools to commemorate deceased famous personalities and loved ones.

In contrast to Halloween, on the Day of the Dead, which is celebrated on Nov. 2, it is the southbound traffic that increases, given that many El Paso residents have family members still living in Mexican territory. EFE