The Billy Penn team tested out some very Philly last-minute Halloween costumes. (Hilary Kissinger/WHYY)

Welcome to Billy Penn’s annual guide for spooky season procrastinators, where we bring you costumes you can throw together pretty easily on short notice.

Our suggestions are very Philly, from the topical to the evergreen. They’re designed to be made from things you either already have sitting around your home, or could buy/make for a couple of bucks.

Read on for some last-minute costume inspo, modeled for you by the beautiful Billy Penn team.

The I-95 livestream

The livestream showing the I-95 rebuild had Philadelphians captivated this June, and the reopening of the highway was basically the event of the summer, feat. mascots from all five major league sports. So expect this to be a conversation piece at any Philly party you walk into this year.

BP director and editor Danya Henninger as the I-95 livestream. (Hilary Kissinger/WHYY)

How to do it

The core item here is a piece of posterboard, or a cardboard box. Make a pair of straps so you can hang it from your shoulders (bunched up painter’s tape works well). Grab a screenshot from the former I-95 livestream. Wear a construction hat.

Alternate version: Spruce it up by dressing up specifically as the Phanavision showing the I-95 livestream. Same general costume, though you’ll probably want to opt for a piece of flat posterboard rather than a cardboard box. Switch out the construction hat for a Phillies cap.

The Brotherly Shove

Rep the Birds by personifying the tush push — sorry, the Brotherly Shove.

BP investigative reporter Meir Rinde as the Brotherly Shove. (Hilary Kissinger/WHYY)

How to do it

Wear an Eagles jersey. Apply some eye black (or use two short pieces of electrical tape). Pin gloves stuffed with newspaper to your butt. Hold a football.

Philly Phlush

The city opened its first two permanent, standalone public restrooms earlier this year in Center City and North Philly. To decide what to name them (since apparently bathrooms need names now?), they surveyed residents and landed on the only fun option: the Philly Phlush.

BP development and engagement coordinator Jess deRivera as a Philly Phlush. (Hilary Kissinger/WHYY)

How to do it

Wear a cardboard box — or a plastic trash can with the bottom removed — decorated to look like the rounded outhouse. You can snag an actual door handle from a home good store, or improvise one using paper and tape. Walk around with a roll of toilet paper. Extra points if you make yourself a toilet paper crown.


Pay homage to your neighborhood parking wars.

BP intern Nick Jaramillo as savsies. (Hilary Kissinger/WHYY)

How to do it

This is just your interpretation of a traffic cone, basically. You’ve got a few options.

  • Wear a traffic cone on top of your head.
  • Wear all orange, and use some duct tape to give yourself some reflective stripes.
  • Make some kind of cone-ish, full-body costume out of cardboard or paper.

Sad clown SEPTA Key

Though its history may be troubled, SEPTA Key still exists, so a full zombie costume like the one we made for the SEPTA token in 2016 isn’t quite necessary. But now that subways and buses take direct credit card and mobile wallet taps, the humble Key must be feeling a little down in the dumps. All it’s got left is Regional Rail.

BP reporter Asha Prihar as a sad clown SEPTA Key. (Hilary Kissinger/WHYY)

How to do it

Wear turquoise clothing with SEPTA Key-like elements taped to it, or decorate cardboard or poster board made to look like a SEPTA Key (we used acrylic paints to create the effect). Finish off the look with some sad clown makeup or a sad clown mask.

Wawa pizza

We weren’t super offended by Wawa’s new pizza option — and neither were most of the people we talked to on the street — but some critics think it tastes like “cheese-topped cardboard.” Seems like a fun concept to run with.

BP deputy editor Heather Chin as a Wawa pizza. (Hilary Kissinger/WHYY)

How to do it

Wear a piece of cardboard. Tape pictures of cheese and sauce and toppings to it. (Don’t make it look like a pizza. It should look like cardboard with toppings.) Or order a Wawa pizza and use the box — they’ll even give you an extra one if you ask. 

Accessorize with various pieces of Wawa swag. If you’re running low on Wawa merch, you can just make a sign that says “Wawa has pizza!” and hold it up.

Hot subway grate

The perfect costume to let people know that if they walk all over you, they’ll regret it.

BP intern Julia Merola as a Philly street grate. (Hilary Kissinger/WHYY)

How to do it

Draw or print a grate pattern on a white T-shirt. Hold a misting fan. Mist anyone who walks by you.

Route 15 trolley car

They’re back! Or maybe not? Either way, you can stun your friends with an interpretive take on SEPTA’s iconic vintage 1947 trolleys.

BP reporter Jordan Levy as a vintage Route 15 trolley. (Hilary Kissinger/WHYY)

How to do it

Wear a cream colored shirt, red belt, green pants, and black shoes. Top it off with a black cap with a simple orange “15” on the top, or wear a white, silver, or gray hat with a black strip that says “15: Richmond & Westmoreland” or “15: 63rd-Girard.” Act like a vehicle whenever possible.

Phillies Himbo

Media’s use of the phrase started with Nick Castellano, who taught rookie Johan Rojas to loosen his jersey and show off some neck chains, but the attitude proved contagious. Some of the best moments from the playoff run that ended too soon saw Bryce Harper dancing shirtless in the locker room. You can channel that energy — if you haven’t already burned all your Phillies gear and red clothing, that is.

BP food and drink reporter Ali Mohsen as a Phillies himbo. (Hilary Kissinger/WHYY)

How to do it

Put on a Phillies jersey — and make sure it’s unbuttoned at the top. Wear a Phillies cap, wear some gloves, put on some sunglasses, hold a baseball bat (or something that looks like one). Apply some eye black below your eyes. Wear a beaded necklace.

If you don’t have a jersey and a cap, you can get creative — all it takes is a red hat, red t-shirt ($5 at Family Dollar), a pair of scissors, and some acrylic paint.

Danya Henninger, Jess deRivera, Maria Pulcinella, Nick Kariuki, Ross Weisman, and Hilary Kissinger contributed costume ideas.

Asha Prihar is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She has previously written for several daily newspapers across the Midwest, and she covered Pennsylvania state government and politics for The...