A Field Guide to New Hampshire Mascots

A closer peek behind the fur, feathers and scales of the state’s hardest working costumed characters



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Five Mascots We'd Love to See

1. Rocky the Old Man in the Mountain, Franconia Notch State Park

Picture Marvel's "The Thing," but with the same chin as the Old Man.

illustration by marc sutherland

2. Mortar and Pestle, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, Manchester

Perhaps only the student body here will recognize these antique pharmacist tools with google eyes. All the better to grind the rival team's mascot into submission.

3. Brook the Glow Stick, Seabrook Station

The "Stick" is so versatile that he could be designed to serve either the baseball, lacrosse or hockey teams for New Hampshire's only nuclear power plant.

4. Picasso the Paintbrush, Currier Museum

Designed Muppet-style, this mascot has Velcro-attached eyeballs that can be repositioned at odd angles for photo ops.

 

5. Sally the Steering Wheel, I-93, Salem

A clandestine project to empathize with frustrated commuters and reduce stress, this mascot could walk along the highway in standstill traffic and give drivers a gentle head bump, discouraging them from slamming their skulls into their real dashboards.


Six Mascot Tips from the San Diego Chicken

Since debuting in 1974, the San Diego Chicken has danced with Elvis, mingled with three US presidents, performed at more than 8,500 sporting events and co-starred in “The Baseball Bunch” TV show with Hall of Famer Johnny Bench. Ted Giannoulas, the Chicken’s alter ego, notes that costumed mascots were primarily the domain of high school and college sports in the BC (“Before Chicken”) Era — not the pros.

Over the years, Giannoulas has performed at Holman Stadium several times for the Nashua Angels, Nashua Pirates and Nashua Pride. After 43 years, he’s still taking gigs, although he’s now slowing down his schedule in semi-retirement. We recently caught up with him at his San Diego home, where he offered the following advice for up-and-coming mascots looking to improve their game.


photo courtesy of ted giannoulas

1. Don’t rely on your costume. The novelty of your costume will grab the audience’s attention for about 10 minutes. After that, then what? Being a fan of slapstick comedy, I’ve brought a Marx Brothers or Three Stooges spirit to my character. Try goofing around with the peanut vendors and the fans. Improvise with the players, coaches and umpires.

2. Keep your costume clean. You’re an ambassador to the game and should always be presentable. Of course, you’re going to get sweaty and dirty on the field. But the next day, your suit should be clean. Teams should do this just like they clean a baseball uniform after every game. Sometimes that’s not taken care of. Believe me, kids will let you know. They’ll tell you if you stink.

3. Drink plenty of water, even if you aren’t thirsty. There is nothing entertaining about dehydration.

4. Try performing on an empty stomach. I never eat before a game. Never. I just find it keeps me more alert, quicker on my feet and I’m not sluggish. Casey Stengel, the famous Yankees and Mets manager, used to say he thought ballplayers played better on an empty stomach.

5. Keep a bucket of ice water nearby. When you take a break from the heat, dip your towel in there and soak your head. Sometimes the trainers use an ice water and ammonia solution. It’s very refreshing.

6. Don’t go headless. Walking around in the costume with the head off is like seeing Santa Claus without his beard. That’s not right. We never saw Jim Henson performing underneath Kermit the Frog. Mascots are creating a theatre of the mind. I’ve had so many people say to me that the San Diego Chicken looks like a cartoon out there on the field. You don’t see a human acting like a chicken. You see a chicken acting like a human being.

You can follow the San Diego Chicken’s latest adventures at famouschicken.com.

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