KINGSBURG – With store-bought Halloween costumes becoming more elaborate every year, there are still some who would rather create an outfit by hand for the annual festivities – even if it takes all year to produce their one-of-a-kind attire.

Among the vampires, dinosaurs and princesses roaming Memorial Park during First Baptist Kingsburg’s annual Fall Carnival Oct. 31 were locals who used their imagination to make their own costumes, or add to ones purchased either online or at local stores.

Brian Griffin, an associate pastor with First Baptist, said they host the event to provide a free, safe environment for families every year. The costume contest is all in good fun, but the judges do appreciate the extra effort from contestants who make their own costumes, he said.

“We love the idea of the ones who went above and beyond and made their costumes themselves. They’re very creative. One year, we had a kid dressed up as the guy on the Tapitio bottle. Another year, we had a little girl dressed up as a grandma that was outstanding.”

Lupe Bonds, of Reedley, used yarn, tulle and a beaded blouse to create a white witch outfit complete with battery-operated LED lights to light herself up that night.

“I love creating different costumes to catch people’s eyes and they ask what inspired me to make it,” Bonds said. She’s made a similar outfit with more pink details in honor of her grandmother Gail Bonds and uncle Curtis Lee Bonds.

“What I had in mind is that I’m sweeping away cancer,” she said of that costume that she’s worn to Relay for Life events. “When I create something, I feel I’m connecting with my loved ones who have passed. I know they are watching me bring smiles to others.”

As part of First Baptist Kingsburg’s carnival, a children’s costume contest is held and many of the winners this year made their own costumes.

Rebekah Crites came dressed as a marionette and has dressed as a Starbucks coffee cup before.

“It’s more fun to make your costume,” she said. It’s actually her mother Tiffany Crites who is making the outfits and says she was inspired by her aunt who typically made costumes for her while she was growing up.

“[Our costumes] were always unique and had a lot of thought put into it,” Tiffany Crites said. “Ever since the girls were little, we’d dress in themed ideas. One year, we went as Dorothy and Toto. Another year, she was a venti latte, the other one was a grande latte and the baby was a coffee bean.”

Although Leila Dablan's Dorothy outfit from “The Wizard of Oz” was store bought, her mom Delia Dablan added props, such as a tornado made out of tulle wrapped around a tomato cage, to make it more original.

“I just remember my mom being creative with whatever we had,” Delia Dablan said. “We’d paint our faces and tear up some clothes. I guess that’s what inspired me to be more creative.”

Natalie Wood dressed as a Halloween-themed table that her mom, Melissa Wood, constructed out of a lightweight wood, sisal rope for shoulder harnesses and gauzy black fabric. They decorated it with serving trays, candies and even a plastic rat skeleton for a ghoulish touch.

“It’s just a board I got at Home Depot and cut a hole in the middle,” Melissa Wood said. “I glued and stapled everything on there,” she said of the decorations. “This is probably our biggest costume. We usually just do easy costumes but we spent a couple of days doing this. You can’t miss her. I think she’s the only table here.”

Some families dressed in group themes such as Christian Mendoza, Odalys Oregon and Jadelyn Mendoza who came as the big bad wolf, Little Red Riding Hood and grandma. Even though Jadelyn is only 3, she sported grey hair, a head scarf and silver-rimmed glasses to make her costume authentic.

“Jadelyn was originally going to be Red, but I thought maybe it would be cuter if she were the grandma since she’s little,” Oregon said. She glued cotton balls onto a beanie to make a toddler-sized wig and wrapped a scarf on her to complete the look. Oregon also used fake fur and sewed it underneath a plaid flannel shirt to make Mendoza’s wolf costume more original.

“We got the fur at the store and I cut it up for him but we got the hood online. It’s more fun creating a costume yourself since you can create it how you want.”

Frances Gonzalez’s effort to create a peacock outfit for her daughter, Samantha Guzman, paid off as she took first place in one of the costume contests. Gonzalez said they started collecting peacock feathers over a year ago and created a harness underneath to make the outfit.

“It’s glue, it’s wires and screws. You name it, it has it in there,” she said of the bustle with feathers that moved up and down like a real peacock. “Her school, Kings River, has a contest every year and they’re more about originality and making your own costume. She wanted to win and told her store-bought costumes won’t win. It’s more about making it. It does take a long time. It took me about two weeks but it’s all worth it at the end.”

Brianna Corona dressed as a colorful parrot in an outfit her mother Rosa Corona put together.

“This was kind of a last-minute thing. We bought some feathers and the wings to put the feathers on,” Brianna said.

Rosa Corona says it may be more effort, but they like the idea of having one-of-a kind outfits.

“She likes to pop out, so every year since kindergarten we’ve made costumes. She’s won three or four times up here.”

Gladys Ochoa was elegant in her black and blue Victorian era dress complete with a feather-adorned hat. She makes a new Halloween costume every year and has dressed as a zombie, witch, pirate and Southern belle in previous years. It typically takes all year to work on her costumes, she said.

“Halloween’s one of my favorite holidays. I like I’ve put in more craftsmanship and I enjoy it,” she said of her outfit. She had even constructed the hat by hand. “It keeps me busy all during the summer and I always have different inspirations. I really enjoy sewing. The feathers were the only thing I couldn’t make so I ordered them online. Everything else, I just got at the fabric stores and get ideas from different books I’ve read.”

Jonas Bishop made his Spiderman outfit with welding goggles and hinges and says he’s still perfecting his web-flinging technique to fly between buildings.

“I just made it the way Spiderman would with a home-made suit. It was a combination of what I could find and I mostly came out for the little kids. They love seeing characters they know. I started with a sweatband and put a few wires and door hinges on it and it turned out just right.”

Nine-month-old Gloria Reyes wore a hand-made top and red wig to be Raggedy Ann for Halloween. Selma mom Carla Leija Gonzalez made the costume in her first attempt to knit an outfit for her little girl.

“I had never knit or crocheted anything in my life till now. The dress is actually my first piece and the wig my second! I did both of them with a round loom from Walmart. I decided to do it on my own as a way to do something special for my kids to remember me later on,” Gonzalez said.

Other parents said they ordered their costumes online as they would have been a bit difficult to execute at home.

Cristen Campini and her daughter Carli Burkhalter dressed as twin purple unicorns.

“I just like unicorns,” Carli said. They ordered the full-body costumes online, but in years past, Campini said she has made costumes from scratch.

“She asked to be purple unicorns and how could I say, ‘no’? Someday, she may not want to dress up with mom,” Campini said. “Last year, Carli was Charlotte the spider and I was the web. I had a web that said ‘Humble’ and she had spider arms. She was Boo from ‘Monsters, Inc.’ another year and I made that one.”

Campini recalls that her mother would sew her costumes, and through the years she’s dressed as a pumpkin, a duck and a giant bunny for Halloween.

“She used to spend many hours sewing my costumes. I have made ours in the past, but this year, I said we’re just going to order the purple unicorns. It’s fun to dress up and be something silly.”

Friends Carson Berg and Nicholas Del Real wore T-Rex costumes that use a miniature portable fan to keep them inflated. Del Rio said he’s usually dresses as animals and has worn chicken and monkey outfits before. This year, he wanted to go large.

His mother Trisha Logue said she typically makes her daughter’s costumes, but an inflatable dinosaur was a bit much to pull off.

“We went online to Amazon. They’ve been running around and getting bombarded by little kids wanting to take a picture with them. They’ve become an attraction on their own.”

Emma Reyna’s candy fairy outfit was a combination of store-bought and home-made, her mother Espi Reyna said.

“They had run out of the wings so I had to add on to that,” Reyna said. They have made costumes, before but Reyna said that can get expensive.

“When you factor in how much the fabric and everything costs, it about equals the same if you just buy it. So you figure I can make it or I can buy it. We love dressing up and this is her third costume this month. She’s also been a butterfly and a cat.”

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