Halloween is a big deal at JPL. Not only is it a great opportunity to be creative and dress up, it’s also JPL’s birthday. Each year JPL celebrates this milestone and holiday with a costume contest, pumpkin carving contest, and a number of other fun activities. After being a spectator for many years, I finally participated in the costume contest last year as a Minion Astronaut with a good friend and coworker, utilizing our recently acquired Adult Space Camp flight suits (more about that in a future blog) and fun DIY jet packs and glasses from soda bottles and Mason jar lids.
Halloween 2022 – Minion Astronaut Costume
This year’s costume idea began a whole year ago with a passing comment from another coworker to combine JPL’s motto (Dare Mighty Things Together) and the deer that often roam JPL’s campus given its vicinity to mountains and undeveloped land. Why JPL is located there is another interesting story, and I highly recommend reading about it and the women that contributed to JPL’s success in Rise of the Rocket Girls. Always loving a good pun, the concept of Deer Mighty Things Together was created, and the details of the group costume developed from there.
In a previous blog, Earth, My Favorite Planet, I mentioned that most of the missions I have worked on explored our home planet, and I wanted my costume to incorporate this aspect of JPL missions. The first step was figuring out how to make an Earth costume, and I came across this great DIY for a wearable Earth globe using a giant balloon, paper mache, and washable paint. Aside from gluing on packaging foam for shoulder pads (instead of making a harness), I followed the instructions verbatim; and, with help from my awesome costume group, the results were great.
The next step was creating miniature satellite models that would “orbit” my Earth globe. I sketched out a few options (with dimensions not to scale, of course), and I ultimately made models for the ISS, RainCube, and Sentinel-6 using shiny construction paper, thin cardboard, pipe cleaners, and a hot glue gun. I then glued the models to the Earth globe using pipe cleaners to make them appear to be floating above. I also, very carefully and robustly, attached my Women of NASA Lego version of Mae Jemison to the ISS model and a red star for JPL on the globe.
Finally, I needed to create my deer look. I purchased flowered deer antlers (to go with the Earth theme) and found helpful deer makeup tutorials online. My coworkers also made DIY deer ears using felt, pipe cleaner, and headbands, and DIY hooves for our hands and feet using felt and elastic. No detail was too small for our costumes. ;)️
My costume group got together on Halloween morning to take pictures and prepare for the costume contest. We had a deer astronaut, deer Mars, deer Psyche (recently launched JPL mission), deer DSN (communication network for all deep space missions), and my deer Earth. We also had additional coworkers who helped fill out our “herd” and unravel our “Deer Mighty Things Together” banner.
Unfortunately we did not win the costume contest this year, but we received a lot of compliments and had a great time with the creative process and celebrating this fun holiday at JPL. We also got the biggest prize after all via a selfie with the JPL Director, Dr. Laurie Leshin, (in deer ears we specifically made for her to wear and keep) that she ended up posting to her LinkedIn account. I’m sure we’ll come up with another fun idea for Halloween next year and hopefully get even closer to winning the coveted JPL costume contest prize. :)️
Fun Fact #1: A solar eclipse was happening during our first costume-making session, and a few coworkers brought over their fancy telescopes to watch it together. Of course I had to get my husband to take a geeky photo of us combining our passions of science and art.
Fun Fact #2: JPL has a number of resource groups for employees of underrepresented demographics, and I have been an active member of the women’s group, Advisory Council for Women (ACW), for many years. In October, I took over as the ACW Chair, and I’m very excited for what the ACW Board will accomplish over the next two years to help make JPL a more inclusive place to work and succeed. Below is a picture of ACW Board members on Halloween in our costumes.