Christmas has its sweaters and St. Patrick’s Day has its green garb, but no holiday seems to inspire crafty couture the way Halloween does. This seasonal creativity was on full display during the second annual Ghoulwill Ball, held Oct. 22 at Port City Music Hall in Portland.

More than 200 people packed the swanky nightclub wearing all manner of fun, flirty and funky costumes. The party is hosted by Goodwill Industries of Northern New England, and all the funds raised at the event go to support Goodwill’s programs that help individuals achieve economic and social independence.

“Halloween is always our busiest time of the year, so we decided to take advantage of that by hosting a ball where customers can showcase their creativity,” said Michelle Smith, communications manager for Goodwill Industries of Northern New England.

As I made my way through the party snapping photos and chatting with guests, I was particularly interested in what costume elements came from Goodwill. Not only was this an interesting tidbit, but that night I was wearing an additional hat: Costume judge.

I shared the judging duties with state Sen. Justin Alfond and Erin Elizabeth of the Portland Phoenix. One of the categories in which we had to pick a winner was Most Creative Use of Goodwill Finds.

“I got my shoes at Goodwill today,” Heather Caston-Talbot, who was dressed as a Roman empress, told me, “because I wanted to finish off my costume and support Goodwill at the same time.”

Kristyle Gosselin of Portland, who was dressed as Sarah Wallace from the TV series “Chuck,” told me about her memorable Goodwill shopping experience. She went there in search of a black jacket to finish off her costume, and brought her 2-year-old. As these things tend to go, her daughter proceeded to have a meltdown as Gosselin was pawing through the racks.

“As I’m walking out, I saw the Goodwill attendant holding the exact jacket I needed, and I said ‘I’ll take that,’ ” Gosselin said. “The baby stopped crying. It was perfect.”

Katie and John Lisnik of Portland were dressed as a saloon girl and a gunfighter, respectively. They picked up a shawl, a crinoline, a bandana and a purse at Goodwill to complete their costumes.

Even the Duchess of Cumberland (aka Kathy Seybolt) and the Duchess of York (Sherri Evans) both donned dresses they found at Goodwill.

In the end, we judges had to reward the creative Goodwill shopping of Megan and Brian Wallace of South Portland. Not only did they have an original costume concept, they utilized a number of Goodwill finds.

Megan dressed as a combination of Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West and Brian dressed as a combination of the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow and the Yellow Brick Road. They found a hat, a black shirt and a pair of pants, plus a brown towel Megan used to create the lion portion of the costume, at Goodwill.

One category down, we moved onto Best Group Theme. This too was a tough one, with the party offering up excellent interpretations of The Village People, Harry Potter characters, and Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

But we agreed that the thick blue face paint and black attire that Cindy Curran, Michael Clavet and Miranda Rooney of Old Orchard Beach used to transform themselves into Blue Man Group merited the prize.

Both of those awards came with $250 Visa gift cards, as did the People’s Choice award, which went to Deborah Lovely, who was dressed in an elaborate costume she called the Little Dancing Man.

The final award the judges were charged with handing out was the Grand Prize. With a $500 Visa gift card dependent on our decision, we knew the stakes were high.

After much deliberation, we settled on Stacey and Shiran Pasternak, who dressed as Cheetara and Lion-O from the animated TV series “ThunderCats.”

My fellow judge Elizabeth explained our reasoning best when she said of their revealing spandex costumes: “That takes some self-confidence and a level of self-esteem most people don’t have.”

I couldn’t agree more.

When I had the chance to speak with the organization’s CEO, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (who was dressed as an astronaut and happens to be the granddaughter and namesake of the former first lady), she told me, “I’m impressed. People really put a lot of thought into their costumes tonight.”

Proving, once again, that Goodwill really is the ultimate Halloween headquarters.

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

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Twitter: AveryYaleKamila