CUMBERLAND GAP, Tenn. (WATE) – A creature has been haunting a small Claiborne County town for the last few days, some have caught it on camera with videos or pictures. Over the weekend the beast walked the streets of downtown Cumberland Gap and there are plans to do the same Halloween night.
Mark Slezak of New Tazewell designed and built the beast he calls Vortex, adding there’s no need to be scared.
“He fights for good,” said Slezak.
It takes 20-30 minutes to put the costume on, which Slezak’s brother Scott wears, and it stands 10 feet tall.
“I started in July, about July 19, and I carved every bit. It’s all soft furniture foam and I carved it all out with a razor knife,” added Slezak.
The inspiration came from another beast costume found online. Slezak says he designed his costume as he cut.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s pretty incredible,” said Mary Goocey, of Alaska, who stopped to take a picture.
The Vortex costume is so intricate, there’s a blue-tooth sound system inside, which is controlled by a phone, to play sounds of a lion roaring.
“You can’t just pick one particular piece because when you do artwork stuff like this, it’s the whole package,” said Slezak.
Days ago Slezak, his brother, and their friends brought Vortex to downtown Cumberland Gap as a surprise.
“We snuck in here and we had him dress out of the eye of the public and he walked up the main street and we ended up stopping traffic,” said friend William Tribell.
The friends say the haunting won’t stop here and we may see Vortex again.
“This is an old town. He could’ve come out of the caves,” said Slezak.
Slezak says the people who designed the original costume for an amusement park in Hong Kong reached out to him saying how flattered they were with his creation and that he did a great job.