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Halloween Transformation Like Putting Together a 3D Puzzle
Wednesday, November 1, 2023


Mike Hoover has long amazed friends and family with his made-from-scratch Halloween creations, which have included Princess Leia and Mysterio from “Spiderman: Far from Home.”

But this year he outdid even himself, teaching himself to sew as he turned himself into Princess Zelda, the elf-like princess from the video game “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”

Hoover, operations director at The Argyros Center for the Performing Arts, spent 90 hours making his costume using patterns from an Etsy cosplay artist “Made with Maridah.”

“I started buying fabric in mid-September and began cutting and sewing Oct. 1,” he said. “Whenever I wasn't working at The Argyros, I was working diligently in our dining room-turned sewing studio, all on the 50-year-old 1970s Bernina sewing machine someone gave me.”

Hoover made the entire costume from scratch, learning how to sew bias tape, buttons, snaps, zippers, liners and even cut darts to make the outfit more form fitting. He downloaded patterns and cut them out, then cut the fabric and liners.

And, when he was finished, he turned his attention to his girlfriend Sarah McDermott, who was dressing as Zelda’s sidekick Link. He even created a shield from EVA foam with the help of a hot knife that can reach temperatures of a thousand degrees.

Hoover always thrilled to Halloween while growing up in Grand Rapids, Mich., and attending Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. He moved to Sun Valley 12 years ago to work for Sun Valley Resort, and became the operations director at The Argyros when it opened five years ago.

He started a tradition of portraying an iconic female every other year in 2015 when he dressed as Cinderella. He played Macho Man Randy Savage in 2016, Kate Perry in 2017, Inspector Gadget in 2018, Lady GaGa in 2019 and the Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” in 2020.

In 2021 he took on the role of Princess Leia from “The Return of the Jedi,” following that up with Mysterio from “Spiderman: Far from Home” in 2022.

What began as a hobby—that of coming up with a nifty costume each year—turned into more as Hoover began challenging himself to learn a new skill each year while making the costumes.

“It started with Princess Leia as I wanted to work with a moldable plastic sheet that you cut and fold into things. For Mysterio, I worked with electronics to light up the suit and helmet. Each year I learn new skills that I can use each year, adding additional fun things. It’s a fun creative outlet learning about costuming,” he said.

Unfortunately, the opportunities to show off this year’s costume have been few and far between, especially since there was no Nightmare on Main Street party this year. Hoover has donned the costume for a few gatherings with friends and family. And even a Halloween Day board meeting at The Argyros became an occasion to get it out.

“If I had to pick, I’d call my Princess Zelda costume my favorite because the sewing skill was so unique to me,” he said. “It’s like a three-dimensional puzzle where you work with everything inverted and backwards, then flip it over and it comes out looking fantastic. It’s like putting together a fun 3D puzzle.”

To date, he said, his Princess Leia costume has reigned as the crowd pleaser.

“I think it’s because Princess Leia was such an iconic character and I did the costume when ‘Return of the Jedi’ came out,” he said.

Hoover said he loves putting on a finished costume and seeing how well it turned out.

“It feels good to be working so hard,” he said. “Every time I add another element, it feels like a huge sense of accomplishment, and I’m always surprised how well they turned out. I’m just super proud of how well my Princess Zelda costume turned out, and it always feels good when everyone else is impressed by ow good it looks, as well.”

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