General Wayne has gone from fierce to felt, joining the ranks of the Rossford bulldog, the Perrysburg yellow jacket, and other giant mascot characters that entertain fans at high school sporting events.
Taylor Morehouse, an Anthony Wayne High School student, will make her debut as the school district's mascot on Saturday at the Monclova Homecoming Festival.
She will wear a $2,600 costume that the 2004 graduating class gave to the district as its senior gift.
"The gift was the highlight of the graduation ceremony last year," high school principal Bob Slykhuis said. "It was a big hit."
Taylor, who will be starting her senior year later this month, tried on the costume for the first time yesterday. She wobbled at first, but before long she was strutting down the high school halls waving and pointing at passers-by.
"It's always been my dream to be the mascot," she said. "I've really wanted to do it since I was little."
When word spread about the district's new costume, Taylor told school officials that she wanted to appear as the mascot at local events.
She said she looks forward to rallying the crowds at all the home football games and walking in three area parades.
To get ready, Taylor has been watching well-established mascots like Muddy the Mud Hen and Freddy and Frieda Falcon,
the mascots at Bowling Green State University.
She also has mascot in her blood: Her mother, Debbie, dressed up as a truck when she attended high school in Norwalk, Ohio, where the sports teams are called the Truckers.
"It was not exactly normal. The costume she put on had little arms she could move and there was a window for her face," Taylor said. "I've been talking to my mom and getting tips from her. She says I need a signature move."
Anthony Wayne schools has never had a costumed mascot. A company in Marion, Ohio, designed the costume to resemble the district's logo, which shows the profile of a Revolutionary War-era general.
Student representatives viewed several versions of the costume design and gave their input.
The finished product has white pants, black boots, a royal blue vest, a jacket with gold metallic accents, and a huge head complete with a powdered wig ponytail.
The costume includes a belt that holds ice packs and a battery-powered fan in the headpiece to keep the person inside the suit cool.
Taylor said the costume did not seem too hot, but she did have a bit of trouble seeing out of the head's screened eyeholes.
"You have to look with both eyes out of one of the holes because if you look straight ahead, all you see is a nose," she said.
Taylor, a member of the student council and the varsity soccer team, said she wants the mascot to promote school spirit.
She participated last year in the "spirit squad," a group of students who dressed up to pump up the crowd at sports games.
After Taylor gets the mascot tradition started, school officials hope other students will take the role in future years. They plan to hold tryouts for the next mascot.
Phyllis Lopez, an Anthony Wayne teacher and senior class advisor who helped students arrange the gift last school year, is thrilled that the district now has its own walking, cheering general.
"I think this mascot will pull together the student body," she said.
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