“It’s such an important part of the U Street community,” said Ethan Geiling, 24. “It brings together an eclectic mix of people at all hours. We were surprised no one had done it before.”
In the team’s homage to the U Street haunt, President Obama visits Peep’s Chili Bowl with his Secret Service detail while the injured Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III waits outside. The team photographed Ben’s to help them scale the diorama. They dressed some of the Peeps in aprons and illuminated the restaurant with a strand of holiday lights. The structure is built out of foam board, and accessories — the Secret Service agents’ ties or the cash register — are made out of painted sculpting clay.
The seven-member team spent 16 hours building Peep’s Chili Bowl. They’re hoping their diorama will find a place of honor at the real Ben’s.
“We were joking that maybe we could get it on their wall,” Lawton said.
In the evenings, after most of the employees had left Siemens Building Technologies in Beltsville, a team began building a model of Congress during the State of the Union address. But in an unexpected twist during this State of the Union, Gru’s Minions from the movie “Despicable Me” replace the representatives and create “Despeepable Congress.”
“Our original idea was to copy a scene of the Minions fighting over a banana,” said Chuck Hughes, 36, of Washington. “But Susan said, ‘Maybe we should make it more poignant and relevant to the nation.’ ”
Hughes estimates it took the group 60 hours total to build a Congress of 79 Minions, working away to foil the sequester. To make the Minions, they turned Peeps upside down and painted on their trademark blue overalls, adding red overalls, too, to depict the partisan divide. Googly eyes, tricked out with modeling clay and a gluelike substance made from confectioner’s sugar gave the Minions their wild-eyed mien. Myers, a graphic artist, constructed the set from foam board.
“We didn’t have a political agenda or message, but we wanted to make a funny and common representation of Congress tripping over themselves,” Hughes said. “They don’t seem to have their eye on the prize.”
But this team did, and Hughes said they could teach Congress a thing or two about cooperation. In fact, they see their diorama as a metaphor for compromise.
“We had to make a lot of compromises and work together to complete it,” Hughes said.
Yet they still had time for puns. With nine blindfolded Peeps dressed in black robes, is Congress holding the Supreme Court hostage?