Everything You Need To Know About Being a Great Mascot!
- By Jenna Maxwell
So you wanna be a mascot? We have tips on how to be your best PLUS important information to keep your mascot costume looking good.
You've seen them at sporting events
getting the crowd all riled up. You've seen them in front of restaurants trying to lure customers into the establishment. You've also seen them joyfully marching in parades. You've even seen these whimsical characters dressed up at your local mall as well, to the utter delight of excited youngsters. Let's face it-these days mascots are virtually everywhere! Mascots are being used for a very wide variety of functions, from advertising, marketing and promotional purposes to the creation of characters that are a fun and integral part of celebrating holidays and other occasions. It's very likely that the most well known mascot in your own neighborhood may be that crazy guy being rambunctious at your local high school's sporting events. With the popularity of mascots ever growing, it's no wonder that folks in mascot costumes are popping up all over the place--even in a neighborhood near you.
If you are reading this, you may be considering becoming a mascot yourself. Mascots are one of the most dynamic and exciting characters found at sporting events, but these days their purposes go much further. Clever marketers are discovering the value of having a mascot to give their business increase exposure and to further brand their company name. An exciting mascot can quickly engage a community in your business and will naturally get all sorts of media exposure. Mascots do attract attention in the news and lets face it, lots of folks love to be photographed with a mascot as well. A good mascot with an exciting personality can add character, charisma and specific and recognizable traits to your brand as well. Most of the time, mascots are just a really fun and high-energy way to inject some life, excitement, and not to mention silly entertainment into any event.
Wearing a mascot costume and being a good mascot requires some basic knowledge. Knowing how to be a great mascot, how to wear a mascot costume comfortably and safely and how to care for your mascot costume, all will help your experience to be much more positive as well as fun.
Uses for Mascots
These days, mascots are popping up at a wide variety of events throughout communities. Some of the more popular places you will see mascot characters are:
- Sporting Events - from local schools to professional sports, mascots are there to engage and energize the crowd with their shenanigans.
- Promotional Events - from grand openings to sales events, more and more businesses are engaging a mascot to attract attention to their business.
- Parades - What would any parade be without various mascot characters strutting their stuff?
- Community Events - Used to celebrate holidays and many other local community celebrations; a mascot will always be one of the most popular attractions at any local event.
- Holidays - Much like visits with Santa, a dressed up Easter Bunny or other holiday character is very popular for visiting children.
- Birthday Parties - Mascots that visit children's birthday parties are extremely popular, creating a lot of excitement with the younger crowd.
- Photo Opportunities - No matter what the venue or event is, you can bet the mascot is going to be one of the most photographed personalities at the event!
- Halloween!!! A mascot costume is great for Halloween dressing up, too!
How To Wear a Mascot Costume
Mascot costumes are very unique, and unlike other types of costumes, they allow the wearer to hide their identity while completely adopting the personality of the mascot. This can be the biggest part of the fun of being a mascot! Many people who have experienced being a mascot have said that being able to entertain and perform under the guise of anonymity is absolutely the most exciting part of the job.
In order to perform to the best of your ability while wearing your mascot costume, there are a few things you must take into consideration and prepare for. First of all, mascot costumes by nature have a few challenges of their own.
A Mascot Costume Can Be Heavy.
A mascot costume has much more bulk to it than a normal costume, and this can be particularly noticeable in the headpiece. You will definitely want to get used to the additional weight of the costume and practice moving around in your mascot costume. Good mascots move around in a very energetic and enthusiastic way, so you will want to make sure that you feel entirely comfortable in your costume and can not only move freely but feel safe doing so.
Practice Makes Perfect!
Practicing wearing your mascot costume cannot be over-emphasized. Wearing this type of costume does take some getting used to. Besides getting used to the weight (and perhaps some visibility issues) you will also want to practice your mascot moves!
A Mascot Costume is Hot.
The heat factor is one of the definite downsides of wearing this sort of costume, but it is a fact that is unavoidable. There are great ways of preparing to wear a hot mascot costume though that will make your experience a lot more comfortable. Here are some suggestions:
- Stay hydrated. Hydration begins long before you ever put your mascot costume on. The day before your event, it's a great idea to make sure you drink plenty of water so that you start off being well hydrated. Make sure you drink plenty of water while you are wearing your mascot costume. Some mascots will wear a Camelback hydration system under their costume so they have instant access to sips of water. An easy alternative to a Camelback is to strap a water bottle to each of your lower legs under your costume and by drilling small holes in the lids, you can use tubing to create a straw that feeds up through the costume itself, allowing you to take sips of water when needed. No matter what hydration method you use, make sure to drink plenty of water when you are wearing your mascot suit!
- Load Up on Carbs. Before you put on your costume, make sure you have something to eat to sustain all the energy you will be expending. High carbohydrate meals before you perform will give you lots of energy; consider eating something a little salty, too as it is pretty much inevitable that you will be sweating a lot while in your mascot costume!
- Wear Light Clothes. You will want to wear something lightweight and comfy underneath your costume. Make sure you don't wear anything that will rub or chafe your skin.
Example of a Cooling Vest
- Make Sure You Have a Good Fit. Follow any of the manufacturers instructions that come with your mascot costume to ensure that you are wearing it correctly. If the head comes with chinstraps or head straps, it is imperative that these are adjusted properly so that your headpiece is secured correctly. Make sure that when you are wearing your costume, there are no parts of "you" that aren't completely covered up. The last thing you want is something poking out that isn't supposed to be exposed. Be aware of all closures, hooks and eyes, snaps, etc. and make sure they are all secure.
- Cooling vests or neck wrap.: Wearing a cooling vest or chilled neck wraps are both useful ways to help keep cool while wearing a mascot costume. These vests or neck wraps have pockets for removable inserts that contain super chilled water and are worn close to the body. You can bring several spare chilled inserts to change out throughout your event so that your costume will be much more comfortable to wear during hot and active conditions. Using a cooling vest is a great way to not only make you more cool and comfortable while wearing the mascot suit, but it will also help extend the life of the costume!
Miscellaneous Wearing Tips
- Never let anyone from the public see you out of your costume; it destroys the magic and mystery of the character you are trying to create. Keep the secret alive!
- If your hand pieces are loose, rubber bands can be used to hold them in place more securely.
- Safety pins solve a plethora of fitting or emergency issues-make sure you have plenty of these on hand.
- If your costume legs are too short, closely matched knee socks can be scrunched down to cover the part of your leg that shows.
- Have an emergency kit handy to make minor repairs as needed. Things you may want to include in this are: duct tape, needle and thread, scissors, and a hot glue gun.
Game On! How To Be a GREAT Mascot!
If you are going to be a good mascot you have to think BIG! Every movement you make must be done in a very exaggerated way in order to be seen. This may take some practice. A good way for beginners to get the idea of how a good mascot stays in character is to watch video of professional mascots while they are in action.
Remember that whenever you are in costume, you are in character. When you take breaks (and this is important) take them out of the public eye so that you can rest without being seen. When you are in public, you should try to always remain in character. Mascots need to do every action much "bigger" than a normal person. Even walking should have some swagger or character to it, so that your mascot's personality is injected into every single movement that you make.
Mascots Do NOT talk!
You will need to learn to convey your emotions with your body. Practice all sorts of emotions so that you know how to do these without thinking. Happy, sad, angry, excited, etc. are all feelings you may want to convey to your audience. Having a thorough understanding of where the facial features are on your costume and how to use them with your hands to convey emotion is a great idea. Practicing in front of a mirror is perfect so you can see how you look to the outside world. Mascots can get away with a lot of eccentric behavior; so don't be afraid to really get into your character. Jumping up and down with excitement, having a silly temper tantrum, waving your arms wildly--all these things are good to have in your arsenal of mascot moves. Be creative and have fun, and no matter what you do, do it BIG!
Mascots have to be very energetic.
If you are a newbie, don't burn yourself out too fast and then run out of gas for the rest of the event! Make sure you can maintain your pace, even if it means starting out a little more slowly. Drinking plenty of water throughout your event as well as taking appropriate breaks, as needed, will obviously facilitate maintaining a good amount of mascot energy.
Mascots always have people watching them. Make sure you never cross the line and do something that could be construed as inappropriate or that demonstrates a lack of good judgment. Never be crude or unsportsmanlike. Remember that your biggest fans are likely going to be children! Sadly, sometimes there are those fans that will target a mascot and may try to antagonize him/her. Stay away from these sorts of individuals and don't react out of character. Never, ever allow someone to let you lose your cool and if you must respond, do so in character while you remove yourself from the situation.
Taking Care of Your Mascot Costume
A mascot costume that is properly cared for will last twice as long as one that is not, so it's a worthwhile investment of time to take good care of your costume. Proper care will help the costume look better in addition to making it last substantially longer. It's very important to hang your costume out to dry after each time you wear it. Don't be tempted to pack it away when it's still damp! Allowing your costume to air out and dry thoroughly is very important. DO NOT ever put your mascot costume in the dryer. This will damage the fibers of the costume. Many costumes have washable components, but this will vary widely depending on the costume. It is important that you follow the manufacturers recommendations for your individual mascot costume.
Generally speaking, the gloves and feet covers can usually be washed on the gentle cycle in cold water and then be hung to dry. The costume itself can be washed according to the manufacturers instructions after every third or fourth wearing. This is usually accomplished by machine-washing the costume body on the delicate cycle. Mascot costumes must be hung to drip dry. It is helpful to brush the costume while it's still a little damp to fluff up the fibers. Unless specifically recommended by the manufacturer, mascot costumes should never be dry-cleaned. Make sure your costume is thoroughly dry before putting it away. Never store a damp costume!
The headpiece of your mascot costume should be brushed regularly if it is covered in fur. You can clean the headpiece as needed by hand with a gentle detergent (like Woolite) with a soft cloth dampened with cool water. You can spray a bit of a disinfectant solution on the inside of your headpiece in order to keep it fresh smelling. Try a 50/50 mix of Listerine and water, this formula is safe to use around your face and head. Don't use cleaning solutions inside your headpiece!
Storing Your Mascot Costume
Make sure your costume is clean and thoroughly dry before storing it. The best place to store a mascot costume is in an area that is very well ventilated. Do not store your costume in its carrying bag. Airing out your costume between performances is critical and keeping it aired out while its being stored for any length of time is also of utmost importance as well. Store the hands, feet and all the remaining components of the costume in a clean and dry area. Hanging your costume is always preferable to folding it up.
Are you ready to become one of the most exciting and dynamic costume characters of your life? Then get ready to become a mascot!