Mason and Rexie are going to Hollywood! Five-year-old Mason Dooley of Davenport is representing Iowa in a nationally televised Halloween costume competition, which is to air this month on the Hub Network. She and her parents will fly this week to Santa Monica, Calif., courtesy of the TV network, for a four-night stay.
The kindergartner's dad, Steve Dooley, built Mason's elaborate Tyrannosaurus Rex costume for Halloween last year and made alternations to accommodate her growth. He made a pattern for Rexie (a female version of the T-Rex, according to Mason), based on one of her toy dinosaurs.
"She is an absolute dinosaur fanatic," her mom, Rachael Dooley, said. "She knows everything about dinosaurs."
Added her dad, "Honestly, I would put her up against first-year paleontology students."
Steve Dooley, a jeweler (Expressions Jewelers), spent three months on the original design.
"I ordered the eyes from a taxidermy supply company," he said. "They sent blank eyes, and I painted them. The teeth are bear claws. Fake, of course."
He built, then upholstered the dinosaur frame, airbrushing its hide. When the teeth and eyes made Rexie top heavy, he added a one-pound weight to the tail. The Dooleys found Mason's outfit at local stores, adding their own embellishments.
The family is excited to see how the costume is received by a national audience, but they already know it's been a huge hit at home.
"Last year on Halloween, I'll bet we had 30 people in our yard, taking pictures of Mason in the costume," her dad said.
"We thought she'd be a little intimidated," her mom added. "We went to Boo at the Zoo (at Niabi Zoo), and people just flocked to her. She went, 'Argh!' She roars all the time."
At the taping of the Hub Network's Halloween Bash, Mason will be roaring for some well-known figures.
"They're going all out," Rachael Dooley said. "Martha Stewart is a judge, and the kids from 'Modern Family' will be there."
The show is being hosted by Kenan Thompson, of "Saturday Night Live."
Despite her age, Mason's parents said they are confident she will hold up just fine. She has climbed in and out of her costume so many times, especially while her dad was making it, she shows nothing but patience with the routine.
During a dress rehearsal in the neighbor's driveway last week, Steve Dooley bent down to make a leg adjustment, and Mason patted his shoulder, saying, "Thanks, Dad."
If Mason and Rexie win the big prize at the bash, they will bring home $25,000.
"We saw an ad on TV, and I uploaded some pictures, thinking it was an online competition and that's it," Steve Dooley said. "I know the expression is overused, but it truly is surreal. When I got the phone call, I ignored it, thinking it was a salesperson. When I listened to the message, it was pretty unbelievable."
His wife wasn't nearly as surprised, saying, "The costume is incredible. He really can do anything."
Mason is excited about her first trip to California, but she is most looking forward to her school's Halloween party.
"When I bring this girl in," she said, patting Rexie, "people are going to flip."