A mascot is defined as any person, animal or object thought to bring 'luck' ...or anything used to represent a group with a common public identity such as: a school, professional sports, society, military unit or brand name. Mascots are also used as fictional, representative spokespeople for consumer products. Costumed mascots are commonplace and are regularly used as 'goodwill ambassadors' in the community for their team, company or organization...such as the U.S. Forest Services's “Smokey Bear”. Many sports teams (U.S. especially) have official mascots...sometimes enacted by 'costumed humans' or even live animals...e.g. “Thunder II ~ a live 'white horse mascot' for the Denver Broncos. (I can just imagine him galloping around the field when touchdowns scored!)
Consider all the animals/birds used in today's merchandise marketing...to catch our attention! It's a strong effective medium to promote anything and everything from cereal boxes, to pop, tires, clothing, cars and truck names...and the list is innumerable.
A few years ago, a friend's sister, developing a home job, designed and made specific swimwear, cycle racing clothing, etc. for sports persons and clubs competing locally, provincially and nationally. Her name was Elizabeth, usually called Liz...her logo on all designs was a 'Lizard'.
Currently, one of the major sponsors of the Pan American Games TORONTO 2015 is a bank whose advertisement is priceless: believe they are husband and pigeons(?) about to deposit cheques into the bank...when she advises him about an automatic deposit...he then looks for more cheques in the mail.
This topic of 'mascots' intrigued me when being introduced to PACHI (a raccoon) as the “Mascot of the Games”. He is so delightful...and to think he was created with imagination by four Grade 8 students in Markham, Ontario. Significant in meaning, they won the contest among the hundreds of entries.
Of interest, are the “Mascots” over the years
selected for the Olympic Games.
The Olympic mascots are fictional characters...usually an animal, native to the area or human figures who represent the cultural heritage of the place where the Olympic and Paralympic Games are taking place. The 'mascots' are often used 'to help market ' the Olympic Games to a younger audience.
History: The first Olympic mascot was born at the Grenoble Olympics in 1968 in France: It was named SCHUSS ~ a little man on skis, designed in an abstract form and painted in the colours of France (blue, red and white). However, the first official Olympic mascot appeared in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany: It was WALDI ~ a Dachshund dog, a popular breed in Bavaria and it represented the attributes required for athletes: resistance, tenacity and agility. On it we see 3 of the colours of the Olympic flag: blue, yellow, green. Mascots are designed in a simple manner with bright, happy colours appropriate for the 'festive atmosphere' of the Olympics.
1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria: Mascot ~ SCHNEEMAN...its character a Snowman. Significance...it represents “Games of Simplicity”.
1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada: AMIK was a beaver wearing a broad black and red band around its body with the Olympic rings impressed on it. The beaver, one of Canada's national symbols.
1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, United States: Mascot ~ RONI a raccoon. Its face design resembles the hat and goggles used by competitors. Named for the Adirondack Mountain range.
1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Russia: MISHA, a bear cub...national symbol of the Soviet Union.
1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia: VUKO, a little wolf symbolizing the desire of humans to befriend animals. According to the IOC, it helped change the common perception in the region of wolves as frightening and blood-thirsty.
1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, United States: SAM, a bald eagle, symbol of United States.
1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada: HIDY and HOWDY...2 polar bears, both representing Western Canada and Albertan hospitality.
1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea: HODORI a tiger cub...common in Korean legends.
1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France: MAGIQUE a man-star/snow imp.
1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain: COBI a Catalan sheepdog (drawn in Cubic style).
1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway: HAK and KRISTEN...2 Norwegian children dressed in Viking clothing.
(Note the change in years:)
1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, United States: IZZY...an abstract figure being the first computer-generated mascot.
1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan: SUKKI, NOKKI, LEKKI and TSUKKI...the Snowlets representing the 4 major islands in Japan. (The first syllable of each word continues phonetically).
2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia: OLLY (the kookaburra) representing the Olympic spirit of generosity; SYD (platypus) representing the environment and energy of the people; MILLIE (echidna) representing the Millenium. FATSO (the Fat-Arsed wombat) created in protest against the commercialization of the Olympic mascots...this unofficial symbol ultimately became more popular than the official mascots).
2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, United States: POWDER, the snowshoe hare, COPPER, the
coyote, and COAL, the American black bear. All three mascots are indigenous animals of the United State of Utah...and are named after natural resources, important to the state's economy. These animals are major characters in the legends of local American Indians and these legends are reflected in the story of each mascot. To remind them of this heritage, all mascots wear a charm around their neck with a petroglyph image.
2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece: ATHENA and PHEVOS (brother and sister) are two modern children representing ancient Greek dolls...inspired by a bell-shaped archaic sculpture that is on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. They symbolize the 'Joy of Play' and 'the Value of Olympism'...and was purposely made to promote the values of equality and brotherhood.
2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy: NEVE and GLIZ a snowball and ice cube.
2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China: The FUWA ~ BEIBEI (fish), JINGJING (giant panda), HUANHAUN (Olympic flame), YINGYING (Tibetan antelope), NINI (swallow). The five words means, “Welcomes You'. Each represent an Olympic ring and Feng Shui element.
2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada: MIGA a mythical sea bear...part Orca and Kermode Bear; QUATCHI a sasquatch from Canadian mythology; MUKMUK a Vancouver Island marmot...not an official mascot of British Columbia, but their 'sidekick'.
The INUKSHUK is an Inuit symbol designed as a directional marker, signifying safety, hope and friendship. The Inukshuk, built in the likeness of a human, is a man-made stone landmark used by Inuit and other peoples of the Arctic region in North America...found from Alaska to Greenland. It is built and used as a marker for a sacred place...an aid for hunting and fishing or a navigation tool.
2012 Summer Olympics in London, England: WENLOCK~ drops of steel with cameras for eyes. Named after the village of Much Wenlock in Shropshire which hosted a precursor to the modern Games in the 19th century. It represents the UK's Industrial Revolution.
2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: BELI MISHKA (Polar Bear), SNOW LEOPARD and ZAIKA ( the dore hare). These were the first mascots decided by popular vote.
2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: VINICIOUS...and animal representing all Brazilian mammals...inspired by Brazilian fauna. Named after the poet and 'bossa nova' composer Vinicious de Moraes...decided by popular vote.
2018 Winter Olympics to be in Peongchang,...
and 2020 Summer Games to be in Tokyo.
Each selected Olympic country hosts the Olympic Games & Paralympic Games which follow. Each selected Pan American country hosts the Pan American Games & Parapan American Games
That the host countries, through their mascots, present a theme, conveying significant messages, it is not only of great interest but encourages players and spectators to adopt these principles, enhancing our lives...and those of others. The sponsors of Vancouver's Winter Olympics and the current Pan American Games Toronto 2015...have been the First Nations and the Six Nations indigenous peoples. We have much to learn from wise and sage words spoken by their elders and chiefs.
It's having the knowledge of your culture;
It's having respect for your mothers and grandmothers.
It is the language and fluency.
As we say,“That's Harmony...that's what we strive for.”
The hearts of little children are pure;
the Great Spirit may show to them,
many things we older people miss. (Black Elk)
Our Spiritual belief is that we were created as part of the land;
so our identity, our names and our songs are all tied to the land.
(Chief Roderick Robinson)
Respect means listening until everyone has been understood.
Only then, is there a possibility of balance and harmony.
(Dave Chief...Grandfather of Red Dog)
Merle Baird-Kerr...crafted July 12, 2015
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