Sometime during the next few weeks, a number of Northern Virginians are likely to go searching for their favorite old clothes and end up in a panic.
The clothes, they will soon discover, were "borrowed" by other family members for use on scarecrows created Saturday at Mason District Park's second annual "Stuff Shirts and Country Cadillacs" day.
Families, scout troops and just plain creative people looking for something new to do made good use of the 100 bales of hay provided by the Fairfax County Park Authority. The festivities, which included hayrides and country music, attracted about 500 persons who produced over 300 scarecrows to guard doorsteps on Halloween.
The scarecrow designs came from a variety of inspirations, but most had one thing in common -- the creators took the clothes of unsuspecting family members to use as fashionable touches.
Betty Little of Vienna hit the belongings of two family members so her daughter Wendy could create the all-American scarecrow. Wendy's scarecrow was dressed in red, white and blue stars and stripes from its hat to its striped roller skates. The bulk of the costume belonged to Betty's brother, who she said wore it 30 years ago.
"The tie we found in Dad's closet," said Betty, who made a "baby" scarecrow of her own. "He's at work. I don't think he will ever know it's gone."
Dick Krueger of Herndon, who came to the park with wife Marsha and son Andy, 4, does know where one of his favorite plaid shirts is.
"I realized my shirt was going to be volunteered when we got out of the car," said Krueger, whose family finished off its scarecrow with the traditional straw hat.
What Krueger had not counted on was that the top and bottom halves of the scarecrows must be joined by putting holes in the articles of clothing and stringing them together.
"I know he does mind. He's had that shirt for 10 years," said Marsha, who explained that her clothes were not used because she never keeps anything for 10 years.
Most of the scarecrow makers were first-timers. Mona Enquist-Johnson, who instructed many of the novices, said there is a system for making a scarecrow that will last to Halloween and beyond.
"We found that it was easiest to break it into three parts -- the bottom, the upper body and the head," she said.
A pair of pantyhose was the usual method for holding the straw heads together, but some opted for colorful onion sacks. Burlap, felt, cotton and balloons sufficed for facial parts.
Alan and Juanita Adelman, who moved to Alexandria from Pittsburgh five weeks ago, took a unique approach to their scarecrow: they went punk.
A stringy white "Dominican hat" with pink and green streaks was converted into a hairdo that would make any hard-core dancer at the 9:30 Club envious.
"This is the first time we had a chance to use the hat," said Juanita. "I knew it would come in handy sometime."
Alan said the toughest part of making the scarecrow was getting daughters Elisa, 3, and Nicole, 2, interested in the project.
"The second toughest part was keeping them out of the glue once they did get interested," he added.
Other youngsters found that tunneling into the piles of hay was a lot more fun than helping their parents with the scarecrows.
Francis Conway of Springfield convinced his wife Giselle that the wool strings he attached to the blue-flowered blouse on their scarecrow was something Michael Jackson would wear.
"Now all we need is a glove for one hand," said Francis.
Sandy Rhein of Fairfax grabbed a striped shirt and dungarees belonging to her daughter and gave them to son, Philip, 10, for his scarecrow. Sandy, who said a scarecrow she made of newspaper last year frightened some very young trick-or-treaters away from their door, has a different taste in scarecrow designing than does Philip.
"I like them ferocious; he's a lot milder," she said.
Jeff and Cathy Fratter of Springfield made one of the largest scarecrows. The blue jeans belonged to Jeff, who admitted he could not fit into them anymore. The large plaid shirt and pantyhose belonged to Cathy.
"These are the shirt and pantyhose I wear when I'm pregnant," said Cathy, who was trying to keep Jonathan, 4, and Catie, 1, out of the hay. "I guess I'm in trouble if I get pregnant again."