Getting into the mascot business is different for everybody. For me, it started with a call from my boss that ended with “oh by the way, you’re going to be wearing skates.”
Having your phone ring when you already wasted all your brainpower on four whole days of classes that week (bless Business Schools that eschew Friday classes completely) and haven’t even shaken off the Thirsty Thursday hangover yet, receiving the last-minute word on Friday that there was a job waiting for you the next day isn’t the most exciting prospect. The only reaction is to roll back over, mumble into the phone that you’ll be there on time, and pray to whatever higher being is out there that no small children are harmed in the making of this backup mascot experiment.
It was the only one in my college office who had the right height, weight, build, and enthusiasm (mostly) to serve as a backup when the full-time guys couldn’t come through for random events that didn’t involve an actual game. These overflow gigs are the perfect opportunity for an aspiring mascot to jump into the industry or for an unsuspecting student to be bribed into the job. As someone who isn’t a long-time aspiring mascot, you might just get a call first thing on a Friday morning telling you that the school’s marketing department needs a backup mascot the next day.
Fortunately, no young girls innocently attending a women’s hockey team workshop were injured or permanently frightened by a human-sized Husky that weekend. I’m a lifelong skater, but not even endless practice was enough to prepare me for the tall task of balancing, changing directions, and varying speed in a bulky mascot costume. That’s not even taking into account that when you are in a suit you generally see out of the mouth, not the eyes, which means that you are either tilting your head at an unnatural-looking angle to see people at eye level or staring at your own feet for a lot of the time.
Nobody was in danger the next time I got thrown into the suit either, unless you count my own tendons feeling like they were going to fall off due to excessive autograph signings. Drawing a hundred-odd paw prints while simultaneously trying to learn how to hold a pen anew is only one of the many things people don’t tell you about the flip side of being a mascot.
One thing’s for sure, once you’ve got the mascot bug it’s hard to turn back.
There’s something pure about what happens when your sole responsibility is to entertain a crowd. Being in a mascot suit allows you to see things that nobody else sees, or even better, something everybody else might see but in an entirely new perspective.