Who you gonna call? Alberta Ghostbusters join battle against COVID-19

Alberta cosplayers who masquerade as Hollywood's most famous gang of ghost catchers are setting down their proton packs to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Prop-making cosplayers volunteer to make medical equipment

Members of the Alberta Ghostbusters, from left: Mario Giguere, Dustin Milne, Jordin Johanson and Colinne Stroud. (Josee St-Onge/CBC)

Alberta cosplayers who masquerade as Hollywood's most famous gang of ghost catchers are setting down their proton packs to help in the fight against COVID-19.

The volunteers with Alberta Ghostbusters may not be able to help if there's something strange in your neighbourhood, but the movie fans are making their mark in a different way. 

They're sewing scrub caps, constructing face shields and using 3D printers to make ear savers — small plastic tabs that prevent masks from cutting into the ears of health-care workers who wear protective gear for hours at a time. 

"Since we're a group mostly composed of prop builders, we figured why can't we build items that are in need for those health-care workers?" Mario Giguere, the group's president, said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.  "This has happened all so fast.

"We had a board meeting and decided that helping with COVID-19 in this way was going to be a priority for us this year. Things have just snowballed since then." 

Three stacks of ear-saving tabs constructed by volunteers with Alberta Ghostbusters. (Alberta Ghostbusters)

Ghostbusters Alberta is a non-profit society which normally dedicates its time to fundraising for children's hospitals at cosplay events across the province.

Members craft perfect replicas of the weapons and costumes used in the 1984 blockbuster and dress up as their favourite characters.

'A collaboration'

The group was looking forward to a busy season of fundraising when the pandemic hit and events like the Edmonton Expo were cancelled.

Members now confined to their homes decided to make themselves useful.

"We thought, we've got to find some creative solutions to help out these hospitals, not just the children's hospitals that we raise money for, but also those front line health-care workers who are really battling COVID for the whole province right now," Giguere said.

"We got together to start using our 3D printers and our sewing machines to make these items for these people. And very quickly, this became a collaboration."

Giguere and his crew have teamed with members of the props team from Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The group befriended the film crew last summer when the movie was being shot in southern Alberta.

Cosplay groups from across the province have also signed on to assist in the effort, Giguere said.

Now we can help in a different way.- Mario Giguere

As of Monday, the group had 30 volunteers working to fill more than 4,200 orders received through its website.

Anyone keen to take part is encouraged to join the ranks, Giguere said. 

"The orders are just flooding in from these front line health-care workers," he said "It's a lot of hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary mostly, but I'm sure that the word will spread and we might start seeing some more places, too. 

"It's been very encouraging. And as a small group of people, it's really forced us to work hard at meeting these demands." 

For his part, Giguere has purchased a 3D printer and is pleased to set aside his fight with the fictional villain Gozer the Gozerian.

"It makes me feel great. That's why I joined Alberta Ghostbusters in the first place. 

"Now we can help in a different way."

The Alberta Ghostbusters group has received hundreds of orders for medical supplies including scrub caps. (Alberta Ghostbusters)