"It's all the little moments I share with my kids that make them — and me — feel special," Greg Dietzenbach says of creating the costumes for his children

By Joelle Goldstein
October 23, 2020 04:25 PM
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An Iowa dad is poking fun at 2020 with a very fitting Halloween costume for his daughter — and it's sure to make those with Zoom fatigue shudder!

Greg Dietzenbach recently went viral after he created an impressive Zoom call costume for his 12-year-old daughter, Ada Dietzenbach.

Using a large foam board and digital art programs, the Iowa resident, 42, managed to recreate the Zoom interface with a Halloween twist. Not only does it feature edited, Halloween-themed photos of Ada as other users and a cutout for Ada's masked face front and center, but the creation also has a live video shot of the "victims" who answer the front door.

"2020 has been so difficult for everyone," Greg tells PEOPLE. "There seems to be a major deficit in good news, and with the upcoming election, divisions between people have only increased. I'm happy this costume has brought so many people joy."

Ever since Ada and her brother Milo were little, Greg says he's been into making homemade Halloween costumes for his kids.

"My kids challenge me every year to make a unique costume," he explains. "It started small — actually when they were small, too. I made a Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man costume for Milo when he was 5 months old, and I made a cow costume for Ada when she was almost 2 because cows were her favorite animal at the time."

Greg Dietzenbach's Zoom call Halloween costume for his daughter Ada
| Credit: Greg Dietzenbach

Over the years, Greg's work has gotten even more creative, with all of his kids' costumes — including ones where Ada dressed up as her neighbors' front doors and Milo was a transforming sock robot — shown on his website.

"They're all a labor of love. I've become known for my homemade costumes with family and friends and people tell me they look forward to seeing them every year, but I really do it for my kids," shares Greg, who works as a creative director for a creative design agency.

"Halloween was one of my favorite holidays when I was a kid and I'm happy to share my love of Halloween with them," he continues. "It's a holiday about imagination and creativity, so as a creative person, I'm naturally drawn to it."

This year — a year unlike any other — Greg says he wanted to do something simple yet memorable. And thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the father of two was able to find the perfect idea.

"Due to COVID, we didn't even know if our town would have trick-or-treating this year," he explains. "Social distancing has made my kids Zoom experts. It's how they attended school and see family and friends. It felt like it was a costume idea worth exploring."

Greg Dietzenbach with daughter Ada
| Credit: Greg Dietzenbach

The father of two began brainstorming early last month but says he didn't actually start working on it until Oct. 12, coming up with subtle jokes for the Zoom interface like "666 Participants," "Share Scream" instead of "Share Screen" and naming the live video user box as "Next Victim."

From there, he started working in Adobe Illustrator, taking silly photos of Ada and transforming her into monsters using the iPad Procreate app. Thanks to his job, he had access to a large format printer and was able to print his design on the 1/4 inch foam board.

He later attached straps to the back of the board, as well as the iPad, and ran a mirror app on the device so it would show a display of the neighbors who answered their doors.

"I finished it on the 18th," he shares. "It was the fastest costume I've ever built. A lot of the planning was built out in my head before I even took a single picture."

"The best part of making this costume was shooting photos of Ada while she was making the monster faces," he continues. "We were laughing so much that I switched over to shooting video because I wanted to candidly capture Ada's expressions and silliness."

Sharing moments like that with his kids is what Greg says drives him to continue doing this year after year — and he certainly doesn't take it for granted, either.

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"Every year is special but I can't ignore the fact that my daughter is getting older and she might want to just hang out with her friends next year," he admits. "If this is her last, I'm glad it's such a big hit."

"I hope my kids will carry on the Halloween costume tradition with their children someday, but if they buy costumes at the store, I'm fine with that too," he continues. "I just want my kids to be passionate about something that gives them, and hopefully others, joy."

And though Greg has received an overwhelmingly positive response from others — many of whom he says deemed him "parent of the year" or "greatest dad ever" — the father of two wants people to know it's never been about that for him.

"Those comments make me feel good and put a smile on my face, but it’s not a competition," he explains. "I want to tell other parents that you don’t have to do these big crazy things to be thought of as 'greatest parent ever' by your kids."

"It's all the little moments I share with my kids that make them — and me — feel special," adds Greg. "It's just being there for them and giving them all of your love. That’s what I’m most proud of and that’s what I’d like other parents to understand."