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An alien enounter

October 31, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Amy Hardy and her children looked in magazines and on the Internet for ideas for a Halloween 2003 costume.

Nathan, 9, dressed as a clown when he was 1. He's been a vampire, Frankenstein's monster with a head fashioned from a plastic milk jug, and, last year, he wore a horse and cowboy outfit.

A costume of spaghetti and meatballs was considered for this year's holiday, but the idea that won is really out of this world.

Nathan is having an "alien encounter" this Halloween. His creative costume carried him - not to outer space - but to victory in The Herald-Mail's Halloween Costume Contest.

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Four Herald-Mail employees checked out the entries and assigned points to their top four choices. Judges gave four points to their favorites and one point to the ones they determined were fourth best. When the points were added, Nathan scored the highest with two first-place votes and two second-place votes.

Nathan's get-up beat 35 other costumed participants - including his 3-year-old sister, Katie, as Minnie Mouse and his 6-year-old brother, Jeremy, as an alligator - to win the $50 prize.

Nathan, a Boonsboro Elementary School fourth-grader, likes his optical illusion costume and says it's not heavy. "It's warm."

The alien head is made of papier-maché - formed around an inflated balloon and mounted on a cardboard wrapping paper tube. Nathan needed bright pajamas to contrast with the dark of the alien. Hardy found bright SpongeBob SquarePants fabric and sewed the pajamas - stuffing the dangling legs with fiberfill.

Nathan doesn't expect he'll maintain his look of terror the whole time he's trick-or-treating.

What's the best part of Halloween for Nathan?

"Candy," he answers simply.

First runner-up


A three-headed dragon was first runner-up.

It took Fairplay resident Jerry Routzahn 140 hours to construct.

Routzahn, 49, has been making costumes for about 20 years and still dresses up for Halloween.

"It's in my blood," he says.

Last year, inspired by a dragon he saw at a party, Routzahn decided to craft his three-headed monster.

The 8-foot-tall, 12-foot-long creature has a body of cloth-covered wire mesh. Routzahn, who's worked as a sour cream maker for 31 years, got a little help from his mom and sister in sewing the stuffed spikes along the back and tail.

The two outside heads, which move and have jaws that open and shut, are puppets controlled by Routzahn's arms and hands. The dragon's battery-powered eyes light up red, the yellow "tongue" is a party favor Routzahn blows, and the smoke coming out of the nose is baby powder.

Last year, the dragon costume took a $1,000 first prize at a Washington, D.C., Halloween contest sponsored by a radio station, Routzahn says. There were 600 entrants. He also was the special guest at a dinosaur-themed birthday party for the 10-year-old son of a co-worker. "He was tickled," Routzahn says.

Creations in years past have included an 8-foot monster of Frankenstein complete with chains and shackles, an 8-foot scarecrow and an 8-foot Paul Bunyan. Another time he was a Frankenstein monster in a bird cage "carried" by a stuffed Big Bird. Routzahn, who is 6-foot-4, thinks bigger for his costumes, using homemade stilts for the extra height.

Routzahn hasn't planned a costume for this year and said earlier this week, "I'm running out of time."

Second runner-up


Eight-year-old Bobby Plume's refrigerator costume took the second runner-up spot in the contest. His father, Robert Plume, says it's a good costume for his son, who's shy. Thanks to the cookie jar on his head, "he didn't have to smile for the photo," Robert Plume says.

The Fountaindale Elementary School third-grader helped paint the fridge, but his dad did most of the work. Bobby drew the spider that's stuck on with a Scooby-Doo magnet. Plume, who says he wore store-bought costumes as a child, made a robot costume for his son a few years ago.

Father and son will be trick-or-treating tonight.

Third runner-up


Dubbed "Can you hear me now," Connor Shank's third runner-up cell phone costume was created for a child who loves to talk on the phone.

To whom?

"Daddy," says the 4-year-old Funkstown Elementary School pre-kindergartner.

Stephanie Shank, Connor's mother, adapted his costume from an Internet idea using simple materials - a cardboard box, paper towel roll, poster board, markers and spray paint.

The Shank family, including Cory, 11, as a baseball player, and 1-year-old Cara as a cowgirl, will go trick-or-treating in Funkstown this evening.

Connor understands the fall holiday a little better and is more excited this year, Shank says.

Connor says it's "really good" that people will pass out candy.

And what will he say when he goes to front doors and rings doorbells?

"Halloween!"

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