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Mascot exhibit is a must-see at UC

Die-hard sports fans may grumble at the sight of a mascot at a game.

They just want to see the action, drink a cold one or five and hope their team wins.

For everyone else who doesn’t live and die with their team, the mascot is a welcome respite from a potentially tedious sporting event.

Usually furry and wearing colorful outfits, the mascot provides a bit of comic relief that can make the difference between a game’s attendance being a trifle dull to, at least, one of joy and smiles — especially when children are involved

Realizing that, the University of Connecticut’s Ballard Museum & Institute of Puppetry, one of the centerpieces to Storrs Center and located adjacent to the UConn Barnes & Noble, has the perfect exhibit.

Called “Mascots! Mask Performance in the 21st Century,” this exhibit is a must-see and it runs at the museum until Feb. 11, the heart of University of Connecticut basketball season.

This exhibit takes the simple role of the mascot and looks at it artistically, going as far as to deem these costumes puppets.

And to fuel this showcase, the Ballard museum has lined up some big names.

How big?

First there is Jonathan at UConn, a two-legged canine who has thrilled UConn basketball and football audiences for decades.

Also on display is Lil’ Red, an inflatable — if not creepy-looking — humanoid mascot for the University of Nebraska.

But the main reason why folks need to head over to the museum is its centerpiece exhibit — the Famous San Diego Chicken.

Begun in the 1970s in San Diego, the mascot — also known as “The Chicken” — could be seen at various events in the city, including the San Diego Padres baseball team.

His antics, however, became so famous, the laugh-out-loud funny Chicken became a celebrity unto itself, making appearances on television and sporting events nationwide.

In fact, the San Diego Chicken get-up has to be the Mona Lisa of mascots costumes and UConn is lucky to have him there (albeit in a less lively state).

But there’s more than a chicken to look at at Ballard.

We suggest a visit. You will have fun and it won’t break the bank.

For more information on the museum, visit


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