Friday, October 25, 2019

Gonzalez family from Raymond create memories with Halloween costume tradition

This year, the family’s Halloween costume
theme is all about bugs
By Lorraine Glowczak

It all began in 2013 with a simple hand-me down costume. It was Isabelle Gonzalez’s second Halloween and she dressed up as Jessie, a character from Pixar’s “Toy Story” films. What was missing from the costume ensemble, however, was the infamous red hat and red braided hair. That’s when Isabelle’s mother, Kaela, decided to complete the Halloween outfit by making the hat and hair herself. “For Isabelle’s first Halloween, my mother made her a Grover costume. I figured I could at least pull off a hat”, stated Kaela.

“From that point I was hooked on the idea of making costumes, and since, it has morphed into a full-blown Halloween adventure for the whole family, creating a tradition I never intended to begin,” Kaela stated of her exceptional creative outlet.

Now, the whole Gonzalez family gets in on the Halloween fun by dressing up in theme inspired costumes that are cleverly created and hand-made by Kaela and her family. In Halloween pasts, the Gonzalez clan – which has grown to include a son Alex, age six, a daughter, Lilia, age two and Kaela’s mother, Jo-Ann Laggan - have been a family of porcupines, characters from the book, “Where the Wild Things Are” and a family of chickens.“That costume took a lot of white boas to make up the feathers. I think I bought out the company in Canada that sold them,” Kaela joked about the chicken family costumes. “Lilia was just a baby then, so she was a little chick coming out of a hatched egg.” Dad and husband, Miguel, who was dressed as the farmer carried their “little chick” as the family of chickens walked from door to door along Raymond’s main street.

“I remembered that when we were chickens, I found feathers on the library lawn a week or so later.  So, we left a lasting impression,” Kaela laughed. She has also made the Halloween bags the children use every year.

This year, the family’s Halloween costume theme is all about bugs and will include a butterfly (Isabelle), praying mantas (Alex) and a monarch caterpillar (Lilia). Dad, mom and grandmother will be the entomologists, dressed in field vests carrying their magnifying glasses, insect nets, notebooks and writing utensils – because after all – entomologists always need to be prepared for scientific study.

Kaela admits that the Gonzalez family Halloween tradition can be a bit daunting and overwhelming at times, acknowledging that it takes a village to create costumes of this extent. “I was having some difficulty making the butterfly wings; I couldn’t get the two wings to stay upright and stiff. I asked around to see if anybody had any suggestions and a co-worker suggested using epoxy. And it worked! The wings remain open and stiff – just like I envisioned.”’s mother and husband help, too, whether it’s sewing or other creative undertakings. “My husband helped me hand paint Isabelle’s butterfly wings,” she said. “That was a very tedious task so having his help expedited the process and my mother made the green pants and shirt for the praying mantas.”

There are times, between the demands of her job with the Town of Raymond and raising three children, when the intensity that comes with creating the costumes can almost bring her to tears. “One day, I called my husband at work and told him I just didn’t think I could do it this year,” she explained. “This was after we purchased all the material – which can be expensive - and I had already spent a lot of time on them. He told me to take a break and spend some time with Lilia before I made my decision to continue or not. That small break is all it took and was back at it the next day.”

The costumes must be tested before the big Halloween celebration to make sure all parts are in working order. “The other day, we put Lilia in her caterpillar costume so she could walk around on the driveway and the grass to see how the wheels on the lower part of the costume would work on different surfaces,” Kaela explained. “Sure enough, a wheel came off and we had to reattach it more securely. The one thing I didn’t think of when making the caterpillar costume was how Lilia will go up and down steps.”

Despite the sometimes-overwhelming tasks that comes with such an extensively creative endeavor, Kaela stated that seeing her family all dressed up for Halloween is very rewarding and worth it in the end.“I’m creative by nature and this is one way I get to use my imagination and produce something meaningful to me; creating memories for my family,” Kaela said. “It takes perseverance, the ability to rethink and regroup when things aren’t quite working out as I envisioned and asking for help, but it is all worth it. It’s something my children can look back on and reminisce – sharing their memories of a crazy mom and her need to create - with their own families when they’re adults.”

Kaela also hopes that this Halloween family tradition imparts on her children the importance of making hand-made gifts for others and taking time for those they love and care about. “I hope my children will see the value of giving to others and how it can make others happy.”

So? What will the Gonzalez family’s Halloween theme be next year? Kaela will start thinking about it on November 1st. “As soon as Halloween is over, I begin to think about next year’s costumes. It takes me a couple of months to determine exactly what I want to create and once I do, I begin purchasing the items needed and start creating them. It literally takes a year from conception to a finished product.”

“But,” Kaela quickly added with an exhausted smile. “I just may take a break next year.”

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