GILBERT, AZ - A Valley man puts a scary twist on the Wild West and wrangles in the title of best Halloween costume in the nation.
Bill Freitag is a Halloween fanatic and has been getting his whole family involved with the holiday for decades. He has a background in art and design and started making costumes for the theater department in college.
When he married his wife Maggie in 1979 they drew inspiration from the Muppets and created matching Kermit and Miss Piggy costumes and won $300 in a local contest.
Thirty years later, there’s a shelf in the guest room of their Gilbert home lined with giant costume heads used in the years since, with the likes of slimer, ET, even Arizona Senator John McCain and President Obama.
Then Freitag fixated on the idea of being invisible and spent three years finding a design better than poorly hidden wires and an easily solved illusion.
"It was killing me, how can you do the pants, and how can you make the illusion?"
He finally perfected the idea and has since created the ghost of Michael Jackson, invisible Lady Gaga, the Unknown Soldier and his prize winning Invisible Cowboy.
The heads, which you can pass a hand through under their hats, move easily. Suspenders and pants are in place and look like a person should be standing in them, but again, just air. The arms and legs are his own allowing Freitag to pull toy guns out of his holster or dance the two-step, but it’s not clear where the rest of his body is in relation to the 7-foot tall cowboy costume.
Like a magician he won’t give away the secret, but Freitag says the reactions are always the same.
"Whoa, the head's moving, there's no body there. And then you open it up and it's like where are you?"
When Freitag finally nailed the look he was going for, he entered the HUB Network's national costume contest in Los Angeles. A representative was chosen from each state and Freitag’s costume won the honor of representing Arizona.
Freitag says the completion was stiff, with costumes just as elaborate and clever as his. Ultimately the judges, including the ultimate crafter herself Martha Stewart, named Freitag the winner…much to his surprise.
"I was like like whoa! I was having a heart attack."
Freitag won a $25,000 grand prize and has a chance at a walk-on role on the HUB network’s daytime Emmy® award-winning series, “R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour: The Series.”
The first annual, star studded Halloween Bash and costume contest, hosted by “Saturday Night Live” star Kenan Thompson, will be broadcast Saturday, October 26, 8–10 p.m. on the HUB Network.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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