At the Oct. 31 Haunted Prairies Halloween costume contest, the crowd of Goshen students cheered as the winners came up to accept their prizes.

Among them was Cara Wilson, a senior film and theater major. It wasn’t her first time in costume.

Wilson’s first exposure to cosplay, the act of dressing up as characters from pop culture, was at the 2013 Indianapolis Comic Con.

“It was really crazy,” Wilson reflected. It was then she decided, “I want to do that.”

In 2014, she appeared in her first cosplay as Lady Deadpool from Marvel.

The process to put together costumes can be extensive.

“It usually takes a few months to a year,” Wilson said. “I start getting my costume together during Halloween, because you can get really cool stuff for cheap.”

“I wear the costume for Halloween, it may not be perfect,” she said. “And then, as time goes on, I’ll slowly start adding things.”

Wilson doesn’t make her costumes from scratch. She usually buys them, then customizes.

For her first costume, Wilson made the eyes for her mask and made a custom utility belt by gluing a Deadpool emblem to it.

“Halloween is my second favorite holiday. I love dressing up, I can be something else for one night,” Wilson said.

Wilson encourages friends to cosplay with her. One friend, Kadie Spoor, a senior broadcasting major, got into cosplay when they were roommates sophomore year.

“Cara suggested the idea. Because I knew she’d done it a few times, I told her it’d be cool,” Spoor said.

Spoor and Wilson dressed up as Disney princesses: Wilson as Moana and Spoor as Snow White. Spoor had made costumes before, such as Ms. Pacman, Raggedy Anne and Poison Ivy from DC Comics. Spoor at first thought her costumes wouldn’t fit at Comic Con.

“I kinda didn’t know what it was at first,” Spoor said. “I thought it was only for animation at first, so I thought that my costumes I made or adapted wouldn’t fit.”

“I didn’t know you could be anything at cosplay … I just didn’t think, until Cara convinced me to go, that I’d fit in,” she said. “I thought you had to be a certain kind of animation or character to go.”

Wilson enjoys cosplaying at Comic Cons.

“Cosplay is a community … When we get together, we’re like family,” Wilson said. “We help each other, and want to expand it, plan on wearing costumes again, make them better. It’s a different atmosphere and culture.”

At the events, people may ask to take photos of your cosplays.

“You feel like a celebrity,” Wilson said.

Wilson and Spoor both dressed up for Halloween. Wilson dressed up as Starfire, a DC alien superhero, consisting of a red wig and purple outfit. As Starfire, Wilson was one of the three winners at the costume contest.

Spoor also won a prize for her Ghost Malone costume. The idea came from her work at U93, a South Bend radio station, while discussing the artists being played.

“Someone that I work with suggested they go as Cardi Zombie, and I tried to think of something that would match that,” Spoor said. She wanted to come up with a “punny” name. “So I was like, ‘Okay, let me think. Post Malone, Ghost Malone.’ It just kinda happened.”

Spoor and Wilson offered advice for people interested in getting into cosplay.

“Definitely start at Halloween, that’s the best time to get ideas,” Wilson advised.

“And right after Halloween, items will be on sale. Just go for it, even if it’s not right the first time you wear it, just build on it.”

Spoor encouraged taking risks with the costume.

“For someone who’s very much … march to the beat [of their] own drum, pick something and go with that and don’t fear being judged,” Spoor said.

“Everyone is dressing up as a character they enjoy,” so why should they judge you, Spoor said. “Even if it’s a Disney Princess.”