ELYRIA — It’s stuffy and roasting inside the new Petey the Pioneer costume, but 16-year-old John Reynolds is happy to bear the heat if he can make a few people smile.
The Elyria High School junior, who is also a linebacker on the varsity football team, stepped into the new mascot outfit Saturday and marched up and down the walkways at the Elyria Apple Festival.
It was the first time in the Pioneers’ history that fans have an official version of Petey.
|JASON MILLER / CHRONICLE|
|Elyria High football player John Reynolds models the new Petey the Pioneer costume at the Apple Festival on Saturday.|
A few years ago, students cobbled together a mascot, but it was never officially sanctioned or used by the schools. And that mascot was just called The Pioneer, not Petey the Pioneer.
“You have other football teams come and they have their own mascots. We’ve always wanted our own. It’s really going to help people get into the spirit,” Reynolds said.
Seeing Petey pump up Elyria fans on the sidelines in his trademark buckskin jacket, coonskin cap, and moccasins is sure to inspire his fellow Pioneers to win, Reynolds said.
“If we have no morale, if we don’t have that hype, then it just doesn’t seem like we’re in the game,” he said. “This mascot is going to be just the boost we need.”
Of course, as a football player, Reynolds won’t be able to be on the field and in the mascot outfit at the same time. Elyria Schools spokeswoman Amy Kren said she plans to solve that problem by interviewing students interested in adopting the Petey persona permanently.
“We need someone who likes to smile, and has a lot of energy,” she said.
Texas artist Mark Calvert of the Great American Mascot Costume Company spent two months building a Petey suit from photos of the Pioneers logo.
He used plastic, foam, and acrylic fur to craft oversized gloves and a giant head with bushy eyebrows, and even installed a cooling vest inside to keep the wearer from overheating.
Elyria schools spokeswoman Amy Kren said Calvey delivered the costume for about $2,000, which was paid from the district’s advertising account.
It’s worth every penny, she said.
“Petey is such a recognizable little guy here in Elyria, but until now, we’ve only had his picture,” she said. “This will help bring him to life. He’s like a big stuffed animal. He’s very huggable.”
Contact Jason Hawk at 653-6264 or firstname.lastname@example.org.