Altoona alumnus makes debut on Halloween Wars


Courtesy of Anthony Pater

Taking my time. Altoona alumni Anthony Pater concentrates on carving and designing during one of the episodes of “Halloween Wars.”.

Jaidyn Palladini, Associate Editor

On Sept. 18, Altoona alumnus Anthony Pater made his debut on the TV show “Halloween Wars.” Auditions for the twelfth  season of the show were held in November 2021 but did not air until September 2022. The winning team will earn a prize of a trip to Paris. 

The show consists of several teams, composed of cake decorators, candy makers and pumpkin carvers who compete against each other to impress the judges. 

At the age of 20, Pater continues his passion for sculpting food on live TV.

“I knew I wanted a shot at competing, but I didn’t think I would have the chance or necessary skill level to do so,” Pater said. “That is until a talent scout reached out to me last November asking about casting opportunities, and well, I dropped everything else in life to make my dream come true.”

When finding out the auditions results, Pater had to contain his excitement.

“I was grinning from ear to ear and thanking the producers for selecting me, but I waited until the call was over to start jumping around the house and belting. Of course that’s the PG version of what I said, but the unbridled joy was real,” Pater said. 

According to Pater, the reality of filming the show makes the audience think the designs are spontaneous, and they learn their challenge prompts on set which was not the case.

“Weeks ahead of time, we’re given all of our prompts, and we have to prepare sketches until the finale. Even if a team doesn’t make it to the next episode, they’re still expected to draw all of their projected pieces,” Pater said. “This part of the show is the make or break point: Can you collaborate with your team to make a design all of you can realistically contribute towards? Do you get along with your teammates? How are you going to compose the display? It’s a lot of fun to think about the piece itself, but having two other people with you is either a curse or a blessing. In my case, it was an absolute blessing. Cesar and Andrea were always wonderful people, and I would spend long nights talking to Andrea in particular to hone in our designs. And then, of course, there’s prep day. They never talk about this on the show, but you’re actually allowed to build your armatures the day before filming. The real saving grace is you can also have 50% of your elements completed during prep which is really nice for intricate and/or abundant detail pieces. You’ve got about eight hours to do so, which sounds like a lot of time, but trust me, it goes by quickly.”

Pater felt what it was like being called a baby on national TV by host Shinmin Li.

“It makes you blush, but it also kind of puts a fire in you,” Pater said. “It pushes me to defy expectations and strive for artistic excellence early on so I can improve even more in the future. In addition, I feel like I can represent high school and college kids that may struggle with confidence issues or aren’t getting the proper respect and recognition they deserve. Like the quiet kid that’s actually really good and drawing or singing or building stuff with Legos. I want that kid to have their chance at the spotlight, and I want them to feel welcomed and embraced by those around them. For the longest time, I was really reserved and wasn’t keen on sharing much of myself or my art with anybody. It wasn’t until high school that people gravitated towards my work and started offering me opportunities, and that’s how I got the confidence to try out for the show. I’m hoping my appearance can inspire kids my age and younger to have that same drive.”

While there was no “self-taught” ingenuity, Pater observed from others and saw them as figures to learn from.

“I really couldn’t list down all of the people and resources that helped me get to where I am now. Amanda Woodring [a former Altoona teacher] and Mike Steininger taught me how to speak my mind and communicate with others in the speech league. Ron Bowser and Eric Hoover gave me endless artistic resources and opportunities. Jen Lowe ameliorated my critical thinking skills. I still have those vocab builders. Eric Zolnak and Veronica Skomra exposed me to European artists as master examples of their crafts… I could go on,” Pater said. “When I got into college, I started looking at pumpkin carvers as major role models. Ray Villafane, Mark Evans, Sue Beatrice, Luke Schroeder, Gabriel Vinas and so many others influenced my technical and creative skills. Learning from them is one thing but having the courage to reach out to them and make deeper connections is another. Half of the game in the artistic community is making the right connections and having a fearless willingness to take risks. I had to learn that firsthand, and getting casted on this awesome program was just the first step in advancing my artistic pursuits.”

French teacher Veronica Skomra was ecstatic to see Pater on the show. 

“I was so proud,” Skomra said. “His place on the show is very well deserved. He is super talented.”

Skomra knew that Pater’s artwork has always been a staple since being a student in high school.

“Anthony is very intelligent and a true gentleman,” Skomra said. “I had him as a student in tenth through twelfth grade. His work ethic is unbelievable, and he showcases wisdom beyond his years. I wish him the best and hoped to see him make it to the finals for the chance to win a trip to Paris.”

English teacher Alyssa Hetrick watched Pater grow as a student and artist. 

“Anthony Pater was a very memorable student. Anthony got involved with the Drama Club at the junior high school,” Hetrick said. “From playing a sea creature in The Little Mermaid to painting his own portrait on the wall while starring in Singing in the Rain, he made such a positive impact on us (his directors) and his peers.”

Hetrick was not surprised at his success.

“Anthony has so much talent and passion for what he does. I’m thrilled he is finding ways to live out some of his dreams,” Hetrick said.

Art teacher Ronald Bowser realized Pater was a unique student while in high school.

“He came to high school already drawing at a professional level,” Bowser said. “It was a challenge to teach him those skills, but it was more about teaching him how to approach design and take him past his comfort zone. He was like a sponge and soaked up anything he could learn about different methods of art. I had him in Computer Animation, which was new to him as a medium. He was definitely challenged creating this type of art, but it pushed him to be a better artist and see things more three-dimensionally. He caught on to it very quickly and then decided that he liked it so much that he chose to pursue animation at Edinboro University.”

According to Bowser, the sky’s the limit for Pater. 

“I see him being a famous artist that other artists aspire to be,” Bowser said. “I envision him creating movies, writing books while creating his own illustrations or going a different direction and creating special effects and robots. I really don’t know where he will end up, but he will be the best in the business wherever he lands.”

English teacher Jen Lowe had the opportunity to enlarge Pater’s worldview and to help build his confidence. 

“Anthony had great art teachers that helped him hone his craft,” Lowe said. “Anthony came to us already with a strong worth ethic and natural talents, so his success is well deserved and no surprise.”

Lowe was happy to see Pater achieve one of his dreams by being on “Halloween Wars.”

“His artistic talents will undoubtedly take him far, but the exposure will hopefully open up even more doors for him,” Lowe said. 

History teacher Eric Zolnak helped Pater with being exposed to different artists.  

“I exposed him to different artistic mediums he was used to,” Zolnak said. “He took interest in the community with his art.”

According to Zolnak, he knew Pater was going to make it far. 

“He’s only refined his craft and his potential is unlimited, so it doesn’t surprise me,” Zolnak said.