Catwalk of Champions

Halloween Costume Contest
Gregory B. Johnston

Now that days of trick-or-treating have passed, a new metric for a successful Halloween is emerging: the superlative costume. In anticipation of the many nights of dressing up ahead, FM brought together six students for the ultimate Halloween costume contest. Combining their creativity, drive, and affinity for repurposing household items, Daniel E. Silberwasser ’15, Zena M. Mengesha ’14, and Doug M. Bright ’13 battle before judges Joshua J.R. Friedman ’15, Mariel N. Pettee ’14, and Jayshlyn D. Acevedo ’14 for the title of Costume Champion.

The contestants search for inspiration in piles of clothing, paper plates, stuffed animals, and even the occasional vodka bottle. For the first round, they strive to frighten the judges with the scariest costumes. “I think toilet paper going awry is our biggest threat,” says Mengesha, looking at her material of choice. “It’s our strong suit, but it could also be our undoing.” On the other side of the room, Bright tapes red Solo cups to a skirt and Silberwasser stares at a stuffed Broccoli doll. He seems intent upon using the toy as he scours through the pile for his next steps.

The participants line up before the judges. Silberwasser, disguising his face with the stuffed broccoli toy, presents himself as “homeless broccoli.” “I am broccoli being silenced by the haters. I am broccoli who has been kicked out of the homes of millions of children,” Silberwasser presenting. Bright follows with a rendition of “Memories from Last Night,” a vertical chronology of a night, beginning with a beer pong crown, continuing with a case of PBR and loose Solo cups, and finishing with a colorful skirt, which he describes as the color of vomit. Mengesha ends the round as an angry old lady, crouching as she slugs down the runway, fuming at the youth of our generation.

The judges huddle after the round to deliberate on the performances, evaluating the contestants on a 15-point scale for creativity, production, and performance. Pettee says, “The idea of homeless broccoli never occurred to us before,” says Pettee. Yet this new idea is not so well-received. “He put himself out there, but sometimes you’ll get shut down,” critiques Acevedo. “It was definitely a political statement to be made, but not the right venue.” The judges did, however, respond positively to Memories from Last Night, which Pettee found “was very relevant. [Bright]’s in touch with his audience.” Despite responding strongly to Mengesha’s crabby strut, the judges end the round awarding Bright 14 points, Mengesha 13 points, and Silberwasser 11 points. The neglected  vegetable will need to step up his game in the next round.

After a rousing first shot down the runway, the contestants are back in the costume closet for the second round of the competition: silliest costume. “I feel like we started out pretty silly,” says Bright as he sifts through a mountain of colorful scarves.  “I don’t know what will be next.” Mengesha, on the other hand, already has an idea in mind.  She rips a green paper plate in half and is trying to smooth the jagged paper semi-circles over her ears using duct tape—perhaps the beginnings of a Yoda costume.  “This is extremely rigorous and stressful,” Mengesha says as she struggles to make the costume stick.  Silberwasser just stands in the corner, looking overwhelmed.

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Halloween Costume Contest

Halloween Costume Contest

The runway is hot as round two of the competition commences. Silberwasser appears dressed as “Frat Boys are Animals,” Mengesha surprises the crowd by appearing as “Alien in Malibu,” and Bright is “Peas ’n‘ Poop.”  Animalistic frat boy is up first.  “I’m a frat boy.  Frat culture turns men into animals. I stand against that,” Silberwasser says as he stumbles “drunkenly” towards the judges.  Next is “Alien in Malibu” with a poolside beer. “Peas ’n‘ Poop” finishes off the round.  “I’m the only contestant to not use alcohol,” Bright proclaims, “but I do use toilet paper.” He snickers.

In their second round debrief reveals that the judges bemoan the distinctly un-animalistic performance of “Frat Boys are Animals,” the un-alien performance of “Alien in Malibu.” The disappointment that the judges felt with second round performances showed in their scores: 5 for Frat Boys are Animals, 9 for Alien in Malibu and 11 for Peas ’n‘ Poop.

Once scores from both rounds have been combined, Bright emerges victorious.  Flattered and seemingly out of breath, he begins a monologue of thanks.  “I want to thank my mom. . . and Party City,” he says, flooded with emotion. Touching.

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