Girl Scout costumers are smart cookies Local Education

PAMELA COTANT For the State Journal

Challenged to make a costume out of some type of paper, a local Girl Scout troop naturally turned to the boxes for their legendary cookies.

Girl Scout cookie boxes were cut up to make stiff shoulder pads and to fashion a belt. The look of a decorative belt buckle was made by cutting out the illustrations of two round Thin Mint cookies found on a box.

Members of Girl Scout Troop 8156 created the costumes as one of 10 teams that will meet on stage at a fundraising event, Read (y) to Wear, a paper dress / costume design competition at 7 pm Thursday at the Majestic Theater. In its fifth year, the fundraiser will benefit the Madison Reading Project.

The contest rules require that the creations must be made out of any kind of paper, and over the years, teams have been “super creative” in their interpretation, said Rowan Childs, founder and executive director of the Madison Reading Project.

“Every year, I get completely blown away,” Childs said. “Every year, people come up with something completely new that we have never seen.”

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Teams have used papier-mache as well as the material used to make the wrap used on homes to keep moisture out and to make racing bibs. One year a costume was made with brown butcher block paper covered with wax to make it more pliable.

While the Girl Scouts incorporated cookie boxes, they also had fun with other materials to make their two costumes. White coffee filters created the look of billowy clouds that the girls had in mind for how an angel should look. Red, orange, yellow and gray tissue paper cut in strips mimicked flames for the skirt of a devil costume. The top of the costume was made by cutting circles out of dark green glossy gift wrap to create the look of serpent-like dark green scales.

“The girls are much more excited about coffee filters and tissue paper – the fluffy, girly stuff,” said Kari Stetson, troop co-leader.

Stetson and Julia Billingham lead the troop, which is made up of fifth-graders and based at Randall Elementary School.

Girl Scout Cora O’Callaghan said she likes the idea that the costumes are being made out of recyclable materials.

Grace Billingham, another Girl Scout, said making the costumes has been fairly difficult but also fun.

“I’ve always loved fashion and design since forever,” she said.

This year’s theme is “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” which is a play on the word “rock” since the Majestic is a music venue.

Girl Scout members said it reflected the theme because their devil costume can be viewed as something dark or letting out your wild side. Member Betty Lind said there is also the assumption by some people that rock and roll is “evil.”

Jenn Hackel, a parent volunteer for Troop 8156, helped by crafting a statement that will accompany the girls showing off their costumes. Hackel said the angel and devil are meant to represent the two sides of the Girl Scouts.

“Girl Scouts are honest and fair, committed to their community and friendly and helpful. But even the most dedicated Girl Scout needs to let loose and rock out every once in a while, ”according to the statement Hackel has been working on.

Other teams are composed of attorneys, artists, photographers, bankers and others. Each are allowed two designs in the show. Local celebrities serve as judges, and audience members cheer as they lobby votes for favorite costumes and the best of show winner. Jason Ilstrup, president of Downtown Madison Inc., will provide the sideline commentary.

The event includes a raffle and event merchandise, and for the first time, Madison Circus Space performers will add to the festivals with a pre-show act.

Names were drawn from a hat to decide which Girl Scouts would model the costumes. Alexa Hackel, who was chosen along with Ruby Lindsley, said she is excited because her hair and makeup will be done.

“It’s really fun to dress up and wear things you wouldn’t normally wear,” Alexa said.

Jenn Hackel said someone she knows who works for the Madison Reading Project approached her about the girls making a costume because they are always looking for youth teams.

“They’re a real creative group and I knew something like this would be something they would really enjoy doing. And I knew they would appreciate the cause, ”Hackel said. “They are a very caring group and they have been looking for various ideas of ways to give back.”

The fundraiser returned after not being held in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money raised will support the nonprofit organization’s mission to serve families, schools and the community through free books and literacy programs.

General admission tickets are available for the main floor and VIP seats can also be purchased in the balcony area at or


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