For many of us, Halloween is a time of year to be a kid again. It’s when we eat lots of candy, enjoy crazy decorations and just have a good time. It’s also the best time of year to get dressed up in the wildest costume you can imagine and to have fun being someone else for a day (or night!).
Whether you’re dressing up yourself, your spouse or significant other, your kids or your pooch, Halloween is a fun time to let your creative side have a little fun. These Ankeny residents really get into the spooky spirit of things — getting all decked out in the best of theatrical Halloween finery. Happy costuming!
For Jessica Wissler, Halloween has always been about the costume. When she was only five years old, she trick-or-treated as Dracula, and she’s also been Marilyn Monroe.
“I’ve always been into theatrical stuff, and it plays up that element of things,” she says.
Once she had kids of her own, a whole other world of potential costumes opened up for her — costumes for the kids. Her two girls, Kylie, 5, and Audra, 1, are along for the ride. This year she’s dressing them both as girl versions of Batman and his famous sidekick Robin — costumes she made herself.
The inspiration for the costumes came from the tutus she’s made in the past. She uses tulle looped around a ribbon or crocheted headband. She purchased shirts for the girls, and she cut out felt symbols for those and stitched them on. She also made capes, in case it gets chilly, and, of course, because every good superhero needs a cape. They also have felt masks with elastic backs.
“It’s super simple, and you can use the Internet as a resource with a lot of helpful tips,” she says. “With Pinterest and Google, if you have an idea look it up because you can find anything online.”
The girls are super excited about the costumes, especially Kylie. She was happy to visit the fabric store and pick out the sparkly tulle and try on the creation. Wissler, also a photographer, has another fun Halloween tradition with her girls: a costumed Halloween photo shoot.
“This year it will be really fun,” she says. “Last year all Audra could do was sit there. It will be a lot more fun now, and they’ll be so cute together.”
What’s in the works for the future? Wissler isn’t sure. She’s considered having Kylie go as Snow White and Audra as one of the seven dwarfs. She says this year she was considering joining the girls and going as Wonder Woman, but time will tell.
“The costumes are something I’ve gotten more into since having kids, and I feel like when you have multiples, you can dress them together,” she says. “And themes are fun.”
Kenda Headley has always been interested in sewing and crafts. Her love of all things crafty has led to creating costumes not only for her boys but for the whole family.
Her son Oliver, 3, went as an octopus his first Halloween, then the next year the whole family dressed as superheros. Last year Oliver was Buddy the dinosaur from the PBS Kids show “Dinosaur Train,” and his parents were skeletons.
This year, boys — Oliver, and little brother James, 7 months — will be going as frogs, and mom and dad will be flies.
“It’s just fun to dress up, I use any excuse to make something,” she says. “We don’t need an excuse in our family to dress up. Oliver wears a cape almost every day anyway, so he gets excited thinking about costumes and picking something out. My husband Peter is less enthusiastic, but he always goes along with it and is a good sport.”
As a kid, Kenda says her mom always made her costumes, too. The most memorable was the year she went as a cheeseburger. She and her husband dressed up in college together but quit until they started having kids. Now the whole family is back in on the act.
She says though she sews many of their costumes, it’s not a requirement to make your own special outfit. The trick is the proper accessories. Even just plain, black clothes can quickly become something cool like a cat with whiskers, ears and a tail.
“I think the Internet is a good place to go find ideas and tricks for making different things,” she says.
Headley was approached by friends last year to start making Halloween costumes for their kids after they saw her superhero creations. She makes baby outfits out of bodysuits with attached capes. She didn’t expect them to be Halloween costumes at first, just fun ways to dress up baby. But she added them to her Etsy shop, which features other baby and kid clothing items, and they’ve proven to be popular.
As for the future, since there are four of them now, she says a possible upcoming Halloween might see the crew dressed up as the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz.” Whatever the theme, though, they are sure to have fun with it.
Crazed for costumes
For Sarah De la Cuba and her boys, Halloween is just another day in a long list of days to dress up.
Her boys — Nicholas, 6, Lucas, 4, and Alec, 2 — love dressing up anytime, so Halloween is the ultimate time to do it.
I have so many costumes for my kiddos and my husband and I,” De la Cuba says. “We have every superhero imaginable for the kiddos. For the adults, we just use whatever I find. I always pick up extra costumes, and I’m a big clearance shopper after the holiday.”
De la Cuba’s love of Halloween began with her grandmother, who would always host a Halloween gathering for family at her home in northwest Iowa. She’d have everyone over for chili and trick-or-treating, since it’s done there on Halloween Day. Sometimes if it’s on a weekend, the De la Cuba family will do Beggar’s Night here in Ankeny then zip up north to celebrate again on Oct. 31.
The family members don’t tend to make their own costumes, and they usually don’t go in theme, but they all dress up. Last year the adults were Sugar Daddy candies, and the kids were all Incredible Hulks. This year she says the boys really want to be “Star Wars” Stormtroopers.
“I don’t know yet what we’ll be this year,” she says. “When my son was born in November, I went as a very pregnant Cinderella. I’m seeing if my husband will dress up as a girl Marilyn Monroe. He has better legs than I do. We have the wigs ready and stuff. I keep trying to convince him, and I’m hoping this is the year.”
The family always invites another family over for the Beggar’s Night festivities and to accompany them on their quest for candy. They rake all their leaves before Halloween so they can use those big orange pumpkin trash bags as décor. For De la Cuba, Halloween is just a time to be a little wacky and have fun.
“My boys play dress up all year long,” she says. “Today we had one running around as a Ninja Turtle. We just love Halloween.”