Eerie ensembles: College students craft costumes at home


Davis Kuhn and Josie Manns dressed up as Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy from “Spongebob,” and Jonah Walston and Brittany Zortman went as Baby and Deborah from “Baby Driver.” (Photo courtesy of Sarah Connor)

By Sarah Connor, Staff Writer

Students dressed up in outfits ranging from cartoon characters to sexy nuns walked to and from Sorrento’s and mingled in Oakland basements this weekend — but one student in particular stuck out from the group.

Attracting attention with massive, floppy ears and a large trunk, Joey Valentino, a sophomore double major in mathematics and physics, created a Halloween costume honoring his favorite animal — an elephant. He wore a gray sweater and jeans and topped the look off with two homemade accessories — an elephant trunk and a headband supporting floppy ears.

“I made my own couch … so I was able to make the ears and the trunk with leftover materials from the couch,” Valentino said. “I love elephants, so this costume was so much fun to do.”

Valentino said students asked if he was supposed to be a specific, famous elephant, and guessed a few off the top of their heads.

“I’ve been asked if I’m Dumbo, Horton from ‘Horton Hears a Who’ and even Eeyore from ‘Winnie the Pooh’ — and he wasn’t even an elephant,” Valentino said. “I’m just me as an elephant.”

The streets of Oakland hosted hundreds of colorful costumes this weekend, many of which were handmade. Students like Valentino displayed their creativity and ingenuity as Pitt celebrated Halloween a few days early.

The spitting image of Deborah and Baby from the 2017 film “Baby Driver” walked near the corner of South Bouquet and Forbes early Friday evening. Sophomore English writing and communications major Brittany Zortman and her boyfriend Jonah Walston — visiting from York, Pennsylvania — appeared as the film’s main characters, Baby and Deborah. Before leaving Bouquet Gardens, they posed for pictures inspired by scenes from the film with their costumes on.

“I’m really into film, and ‘Baby Driver’ is one of my favorite movies,” Zortman said. “Jonah had an easy task to get the materials together for the Baby costume, but dressing up as Deborah was a bit more complicated.”

Walston sported a white T-shirt partnered with a black jacket, blue jeans, black sneakers, earbuds and jet-black Ray-Ban sunglasses, while Zortman fashioned a handmade waitress dress with black-and-white accents.

Joey Valentino made an elephant costume with leftover couch materials. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Connor)

Aside from the clever couples costumes and homemade elephant garb, a walk through Oakland this weekend meant plenty of sightings of more traditional Halloween costumes. Zombies, witches, evil clowns and professional athletes were common at Pitt this Halloween weekend.

First-year dental hygiene students Hannah Rockenstein and Anndi Bartlett made their costumes from scratch, but stuck to classics. By buying big white T-shirts, fake blood and dark makeup, the group created their own zombie looks.

“The costumes were pretty easy to make,” Rockenstein said. “It was so much fun to do and we looked great.”

While some students aimed to terrify with their outfits, others took to comedy. Sophomore mechanical engineering major Davis Kuhn and sophomore marketing student Josie Manns dressed as characters from the classic Nickelodeon cartoon “Spongebob Squarepants.”

Costumed as the less-than-super superheroes Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, the couple created their own outfits from items that can be bought at a drugstore.

Manns sported Barnacle Boy’s classic red shirt and sailor hat and finished the look off with gloves, black shorts and boots. Kuhn attempted to emulate Mermaid Man by wearing his own version of the character’s signature belt with an “M” on the buckle, an orange top with a handmade seashell bikini top, black spandex shorts and even a pair of bright green tights.

“You gotta love Mermaid Man,” he said, chuckling with Manns. “We’re really proud of how the costumes turned out.”

Dressed as Velma from “Scooby Doo,” sophomore psychology major Kerry McGlynn and her three friends from Duquesne spent some time relaxing in the Schenley Quad before heading out to experience Halloweekend.

“I transferred to Pitt from Duquesne last year, and the friends I made while I was there have been dying to come see what Oakland is like,” McGlynn said. “I figured Halloween was the perfect time to do that.”

As the weekend’s festivities came to a close, students dressed as characters from “The Fairly OddParents” and “Bob’s Burgers” made their way to The Original Hot Dog Shop and Lotsa Pizza. Other costumes like Pedro and Napoleon from “Napoleon Dynamite,” Slytherin wizards from “Harry Potter” and a duo of an angel and the devil made their way home.

When Sunday morning arrived, Rockenstein had barely wiped off her zombie makeup when she started brainstorming costume ideas for the future.

“My friends and I had a blast,” she said. “I saw so many creative costumes, I’m already thinking of ideas for next year.”