Alison Cyr and Valerie Sanborn like to dress up in inflatable dinosaur costumes and roam the streets of Greater Portland in search of smiles.
They know they are not alone. A search of Instagram and other social media sites show that the T. rex costume trend has been creating viral moments for the past two years or so all around the country. But the two friends are having a hard time meeting other dinosaur imitators in person.
So they decided to get the New Year off to a roaring start by throwing a party for their fellow T. rex impersonators. At 3 p.m. Saturday, the two women will host a gathering of T. rex costume owners and interested spectators in Portland’s Monument Square.
“We don’t know anyone else who has a costume, so we just want people to show up and see what happens,” said Cyr, 26, of Saco. “I know that when we (wear the costumes) around, people stop and take pictures. It just seems to brighten up people’s day.”
Cyr and Sanborn have their own Instagram account to document their dinosaur adventures: “trexcouple.” It shows pictures of their dinosaur alter-egos, Thelma and Rocco, watching TV, baking, riding a snowmobile, relaxing on the beach and strolling in the Old Port.
How many dinosaurs will come stomping into Monument Square Saturday is hard to say. The event’s Facebook page on Monday listed 109 people as going and more than 1,000 as interested. Several posted that they would bring their costumes, and others said they would buy a costume for the occasion.
Brad Garand of Biddeford is one of the costume owners who plans on going to Saturday’s dinosaur party. He bought his T. rex costume for a friend’s wedding a couple years ago. She showed him a video of a T. rex doing funny things and said to him, “Wouldn’t it be fun if someone showed up at my wedding in one of those?” So he did. He has worn the costume to entertain kids, but not much other than that.
“You get a lot of laughs, and generally it’s a pretty fun, happy time when you wear it,” said Garand, 35, who works for a security company.
The trend started among the huge fan base for the 2015 dinosaur flick “Jurassic World.” Soon after the film’s release, videos began showing up on line of people wearing the officially-licensed T. rex costume from Rubie’s Costume Co.
One of the early videos to go viral showed someone in a T. rex costume making his or her way through the obstacle course used for the NBC show “American Ninja Warrior.” Other videos showed the inflatable characters taking dance classes, shoveling snow and riding a roller coaster.
Sanborn, 27, of South Portland, is a big fan of the “Jurassic Park” films, of which “Jurassic World” is one. She wanted to buy a costume when the trend started, but at the time, they cost more than $100. She waited until the prices went down and bought one in August, for about $50. The costumes are sold on Amazon and at Walmart, Target and several other retailers.
The inherent comedy in wearing the suits comes from their cartoon-like appearance. The adult suits, inflated by an interior fan, are 7 feet tall, 2 feet wide at the shoulder and have tails that are nearly 3 feet long. People wearing the suits see through a panel in the chest. Maneuvering around in one is not easy. It’s also pretty hot inside the suit, which is why a January outdoor gathering in Maine makes sense.
Sanborn and Cyr starting walking around as a dinosaur pair before Christmas. Cyr had bought a suit for her younger brother, and she decided to try it out with Sanborn, in her costume. They walked around the Knightville section of South Portland and tapped their paws on the windows at Foulmouthed Brewing, a brewpub.
“It was hysterical, the reaction we got,” said Cyr. “It’s difficult to walk around with them inside the house, so we went out.”
The pair haven’t heard much about other gatherings like the one they are planning. One was held in Nashville, Tennessee, in October. T. rex fans held the city’s second annual T-Rex Stampede downtown, with about 25 costumed creatures showing up.
The Portland event, which doesn’t have any planned component besides asking people to show up, could have more than that based on the Facebook response.
Several photographers say they’re going too because, well, a heard of inflatable dinosaurs is a photo op not to be missed.
WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday
WHAT: A gathering for people who own inflatable dinosaur costumes, part of a growing trend, believe it or not, and those who want to watch.
WHERE: Monument Square, Portland
HOW MUCH: Free
INFO: T. rex gathering in Monument Square on Facebook