Whale of a carve nets Kohler win
Snyder’s Viva Las Vegas Elvis costume also victorious
Emilie Kohler’s whale-shaped gourd stood out from a table full of Halloween pumpkins to win the fourth iteration of the Green Flash Carve last Saturday at the Laulau Dive Point in Lau Lau Bay.
Dr. Ron Snyder, meanwhile, channeled his inner King of Rock ‘N Roll by dressing up as Elvis Presley and won his second consecutive Green Flash Carve Halloween costume contest.
Kohler, a 36-year-old Division of Fish and Wildlife biologist, won a coin toss to top the underwater carving competition as her whale-inspired gourd entry and eventual runner-up Jay Santos’ alien skull from Indiana Jones actually finished tied for the top spot.
Just the same, she was shocked she won the contest.
“I was really surprised to win this year since there were so many good entries. We look forward to this event every year. We got extra points for using local produce and it was a fun challenge. You really have to be careful because a lot of veggies will shoot to the surface once you let go of them,” she said.
The Ohio native said the shape of the squash inspired her to carve a whale. She also believes an additional accessory pushed her entry to the top.
“On my way to the event, I noticed my umbrella palm looked like a spout, so I picked a stalk to take with me. It may have been the deciding factor. The conditions were challenging to carve in this year, so I was thankful to have a simple design. I’d like to dedicate my win to my dive buddy for life, J.D. Herndon,” said Kohler.
Kohler won a Scubapro MK2/R095 regulator set, while Santos settled for second place and took home a Scubapro dive light. Jessica Williams and Doemiko Flores, who both carved fish shapes using local gourds, finished tied for third place and each got a Scubapro rash guard.
Snyder, meanwhile, followed up his Elsa of Arendelle getup from Disney’s Frozen last year with a Las Vegas Elvis impersonation this time.
“I actually bought the costume online two years ago. I wanted to wear it to school and then go as Underwater Elvis for the Green Flash Costume Contest. But last year, the SIS Halloween Carnival was canceled because of COVID so I saved the costume for this year. I thought Elvis would look cool underwater and the costume could be integrated into the scuba gear,” said the Saipan International School headmaster, who actually shaved his beard especially for the event for authenticity.
While he agrees that winning twice in a row is very cool, Snyder said it could also be a curse. “I am already feeling the pressure to maintain my status. Halloween is over and I am already pricing costume pieces for sale on eBay for next year. I can’t guarantee a three-peat but I will do my best not to let my fans down. That is what the King would have done, after all.”
The CNMI national athletics coach dedicated his win in the costume contest to his ever supportive wife, Kim. “She had to help me into the costume because of the scuba gear.”
Snyder received 15 free cylinder fills at Green Flash Dive for all his troubles, while Karie Comstock won 10 free cylinder fills for finishing second, with her costume aptly named “Tank Baby.”
Green Flash Dive co-owner Joey McDoulett congratulated Kohler and company for carving like dolphins possessed during the competition.
“Emilie Kohler’s whale and Jay Santos’ alien skull were both carved from local gourds. Their entries received the exact same score from the judges, requiring a tiebreaker. Emilie’s whale won out by the flip of a coin. Both carvings were well done and used the shape of their vegetables to produce the final result. There was also a tie for third with Jessica Williams and Doemiko Flores. We decided there was no need to break that tie and awarded them both third place. The other entries were also well done. The separation between first and last place was only 13 points out of a total of 108 points,” he said.
On Snyder’s winning Elvis costume, McDoulett said it could’ve gone either way.
“The costumes were elaborate this year. Ron Snyder and Karie Comstock have been battling it out on the costume for the last three years. Ron has won the last two years in a row. This year Ron won because he went out with a complete Elvis suit, Vegas style. Karie was our runner-up with a baby strapped to her back, taking the place of her scuba tank. Karie’s costume was extremely original and creative. Ron’s costume was extremely elaborate and detailed. This year Ron won, but Karie never loses her drive.”
He also thanked everyone who took part in the Green Flash Carve this year and promised bigger things next year.
“There was incredible interest in the event this year. It is a busy time of year for everybody and there are always unforeseen events that make people pull out. So we were very happy to see the number that really put a lot of effort into the competition.”
McDoulett also extended his gratitude to Dive Wish, Axe Murderer Saipan, and dive instructor Tai Doram for providing safety or photography during the event.