Putting a costume on a kid in a wheelchair is a little odd. After all, most costumes are of entities that are fairly active, and the chair isn't conducive to that image. I was trying to remember J's earliest costumes. My wife thinks when he was three and in preschool, he went as Barney.
But then one day we were looking through a catalog and we saw a picture of a kid in a wheelchair costumed as a drummer, surrounded by a drum set.
Oh. You don't just dress the kid in a costume and sit him in a wheelchair. The wheelchair is basically a float.
Well, that's different.
We did several of these over the years. Somewhere we have pictures of all of them. One year he went as an executive in a suit and tie sitting at a desk. Another he went as a football player. For that one, we put astroturf on his tray, marked it with white chalk lines, attached a small football, and used PVC pipe to make goalposts attached to the back of his chair.
But the best one was the first one. Back then we were shooting on film, not digitally, so what I have handy is a phone shot taken of a picture on my wife's desk of J's first wheelchair costume. We put a ton of work into this one.
He was still in preschool. He was four years old.
To understand this costume, you need to understand that my wife was at Purdue University at the time, so that's where we were. The Purdue University sports teams have a pair of mascots. One is called Purdue Pete, but it's the other one that counts: the Boilermaker Special. The Boilermaker Special is a black and gold locomotive. There are versions of this that are built on truck platforms and drive around the country, particularly to road games. There's a place on the back bed for passengers. It has a good train whistle. I've been a passenger in one once.
So we decided to turn the chair into that. There was a model train store in the DC area, where I went a lot, and I went in and bought a wooden train whistle and an engineer's cap. The costume took a lot of figuring out: how to mount it (getting it to stay on the tray was not easy), detailed painting, etc.
He looked like this:
The smokestack on top has a flashlight mounted through it. After all, we were trick or treating at night.
This was one of these costumes that when we knocked on a door and people saw it, we got a lot of "come here, you really have to see this."
And then, one day that winter, I took him to a women's basketball game. This was a particularly good year to do that because this team was on its way to its only national championship. I took him in costume. As you can imagine, he got a lot of attention, which he loved. The kid loved the spotlight. Someone from the team came over to me and said "If you bring him back in that to another game, I'll get you on television." Unfortunately, that didn't happen, because I had to travel on business and no one at home (wife or sitter) was willing to get him into costume and take him to a game, and there weren't that many games left in post season.
In the game we saw, we saw the longest shot I've ever seen go in. This was a game Purdue had in the bag, they had possession and the clock was running down to halftime, maybe a second to go, when Ukari Figgs just launched the ball while on the run from about three quarters court. Off the backboard and in.
I've written a lot of posts about J and about being his father. I keep an index post of these posts as I write them so the links are collected in one place, with brief descriptions. This post is now on the index post. Here's the link to the index: