ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — A Rocky River teen is putting Northeast Ohio in the national spotlight through a tuxedo he designed and created completely out of duct tape.
18-year-old Joshua O'Halla is a finalist in the national Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest where high school students create prom dresses and tuxedos out of Duck Brand duct tape. This year there were 355 entries, and O’Halla’s creation was selected in the top five of the tuxedo category.
“I like approaching a problem like how do I make a suit out of duct tape with not very much experience and just kind of working my way through it and through the process?” says O’Halla.
The process led him to turning his Northeast Ohio memories into something others can experience.
“I wanted to share something that was unique to me,” O’Halla explains.
Growing up in a community right off Lake Erie, O’Halla and his family spent many summers enjoying the water, Northeast Ohio's Metroparks system and the beauty of Cleveland's skyline.
His duct tape tux has a colorful Lake Erie sunset on the back jacket, which gives off the impression of a painting rather than its actual composition of thin strips of duct tape feathered together. On the back of his vest are fireworks exploding over the downtown Cleveland skyline. On the front, a heron in water representing the beauty of nature.
“When I look at a lot of these pictures I made on my suit, a lot of memories I have of my summers growing up come back to me and it's very comforting memories,” says O’Halla.
He finished off the outfit with white, black and gold duct tape shoes, a gold tie and red flower. In total the project took him 96 hours to complete.
“A lot of teenage time in his room with duct tape and cardboard and his sketch pad,” says O’Halla’s mom, Nadine. “I think he's trying to represent the best of Northeast Ohio.”
O’Halla, who didn't get a chance to attend his prom wearing the tuxedo due to COVID-19, is the only finalist from Northeast Ohio in the contest. He's competing against four other tuxedo designs for the $10,000 prize. The winner of the dress competition will also receive $10,000.
You can vote for O’Halla’s Northeast Ohio inspired tuxedo HERE. Voting ends at 11:59:59 p.m. Friday, July 10, 2020.
O’Halla, who has been designing and manufacturing extravagant Halloween costumes for years, says he plans to attend the Ohio State University in the fall and major in mechanical engineering. He's hoping to find a way to combine his art with the field of engineering.