Alexandria, VA – One family’s ingenuity has spread to friends and neighbors in Alexandria’s Riverside Gardens, and everyone is waiting with bated breath to see what’s next. It started innocently enough, on Easter Sunday at the Ferry home, when dinner was shaping up to be a low-key, quiet celebration. The oldest of the three children, a high school freshman, suggested picking a decade and coming to dinner dressed to match the decade. Game on! Dad chose the 20s, Mom the 50s, daughter the 70s (dig those glasses!), and sons repped the 60s and 80s.
They posted the photo on Facebook and enjoyed an enthusiastic response, and they dressed up again the next night. And the next. For five nights in a row, Facebook friends and neighbors waited to see what they’d choose, how they would do it. Christian Ferry said, “We didn’t coordinate it with the kids, besides choosing the theme. Every evening was a surprise when everyone came to dinner. We’d take a photo and post it to Facebook.” They also set one rule for themselves: Use what’s in the house; no need to purchase anything. After the decades theme, they dressed as a famous person, sports hero, inanimate object and, finally, another member of the family – a fan favorite for sure.
Their legion of fans was hooked. Friend and future gamer Jessica Kidwell said, “It became something to look forward to. We’d all wonder, what will the Ferrys do tonight? For five nights we had ‘must-see Facebook’!”
After the fifth night, the Ferrys passed the baton to another family in the neighborhood. Holly Ferry explained, “It was surprising at first to see how well it was received! People really seemed to enjoy it. That’s why we passed it on – it was just so entertaining.”
The next family chose a tv/movie theme, posted a photo, and passed the baton once again. As one game participant noted, “That was a great move. It felt more doable as a one-night challenge.” The tv/movie show theme has stayed constant as the challenge continues.
Brian Berry, whose son chose the tv show Seinfeld for their theme, was thankful his kids were so into it. “The world has turned upside down, and we adults can handle it ok, but for our kids, the carpet has been torn out from under them.” After suddenly having no school, no sports, and not seeing their friends, the Dress Up Challenge became an awesome virtual socialization. They’re seeing their friends and their friends’ parents dressing up, being creative, and having fun. “It’s soft humor, it’s not at the expense of others, and it’s not about COVID-19. Right? So it’s a win-win situation.”
The parodies have been fabulous. The Hangover, The Goonies, The Addams Family, Parks and Rec, Top Gun, Ocean’s Eleven, Tiger King. Jessica Kidwell, aka Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec, knew she had a tough act to follow. “When the baton was passed to us, the pressure was on, especially after Tiger King. I thought, oh no, who can follow a fake amputation and face paint?”
The friends agree the challenge has been incredibly fun and a welcome distraction. Seeing their children embrace it has been particularly gratifying, especially the teenagers who usually don’t have time for anyone. “It’s been great to connect with the kids on a new level and so nice to spend that time together, brainstorming on what we can parody, how we should do it.”
And that’s the charm – just seeing each family relish the challenge. Any neighborhood or group can take this Dress Up Challenge and run with it. In fact, the most recent participant tagged her family on the West Coast to partake. Here’s hoping it does catch on and take off, so more groups of friends and neighbors can spread the joy, get those creative juices flowing, and escape from reality for a bit.