Billy the Marlin and Sebastian the Ibis returned to South Florida as champions of the 22nd Mascot Games, presented by Wawa and benefiting New Hope for Kids.
The two-day event featured 24 mascots from pro and college sports’ teams participating in various contests and games June 19-20 at the Amway Center in Orlando.
The mascots were split into four teams via a Mascot Games Draft & New Hope for Kids Dinner Party the night before the Games. A team champion was crowned each day.
On day one, the Target Red Team (Stormy of the NHL Carolina Hurricanes, Captain Fear of the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Champ of the NBA Dallas Mavericks, Kingston of the MLS Orlando City Soccer Club, Rowdy of the NFL Dallas Cowboys, and Billy the Marlin of the MLB Miami Marlins) won the trophy, finishing first with 195 points. Stormy captained the team to victory, highlighted by its win in an unusual mascot style obstacle course.
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Billy the Marlin at the Mascot Games
The Truly Nolen Yellow Team (Stanley C. Panther of the NHL Florida Panthers, Alberta of the NCAA University of Florida Gators, Louie of the NHL St. Louis Blues, Raymond of the MLB Tampa Bay Rays, Shades of the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears, and Tommy Hawk of the NHL Chicago Blackhawks) and the Florida Hospital for Children Blue Team (Fin the Whale of the NHL Vancouver Canucks, Bango of the NBA Milwaukee Bucks, Big Red of the NCAA University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, Knightro of the NCAA University of Central Florida Knights, Rangers Captain of the MLB Texas Rangers, and Thunderbug of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning) tied for second with 165 points.
Stanley C. Panther captained the Truly Nolen Yellow Team which won the dance contest, scoring a perfect 50 with some synchronized moves and the stellar lead dancing of Raymond. Fin the Whale captained the Blue Team, which won the target shooting contest.
The OUC The Reliable One Green Team (Stuff the Magic Dragon of the NBA Orlando Magic, Carlton of the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs, N.J. Devil of the NHL New Jersey Devils, Orbit of the MLB Houston Astros, Slamson the Lion of the NBA Sacramento Kings, and Sebastian the Ibis of the NCAA University of Miami Hurricanes) was fourth. Host mascot Stuff, who received the loudest ovation from the hometown crowd, captained the Green Team, which won the basketball type shot contest.
Talk about a new day. On day two, the OUC The Reliable One Green Team regrouped in a big way. From worst to first, they (Stuff the Magic Dragon of the NBA Orlando Magic, Carlton of the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs, N.J. Devil of the NHL New Jersey Devils, Orbit of the MLB Houston Astros, Slamson the Lion of the NBA Sacramento Kings, and Sebastian the Ibis of the NCAA University of Miami Hurricanes) won the trophy.
Sebastian the Ibis at the Mascot Games
The Truly Nolen Yellow Team (Stanley C. Panther of the NHL Florida Panthers, Alberta of the NCAA University of Florida Gators, Louie of the NHL St. Louis Blues, Raymond of the MLB Tampa Bay Rays, Shades of the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears, and Tommy Hawk of the NHL Chicago Blackhawks) was runner-up again.
The Target Red Team (Stormy of the NHL Carolina Hurricanes, Captain Fear of the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Champ of the NBA Dallas Mavericks, Kingston of the MLS Orlando City Soccer Club, Rowdy of the NFL Dallas Cowboys, and Billy the Marlin of the MLB Miami Marlins) took third, and the Florida Hospital for Children Blue Team (Fin the Whale of the NHL Vancouver Canucks, Bango of the NBA Milwaukee Bucks, Big Red of the NCAA University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, Knightro of the NCAA University of Central Florida Knights, Rangers Captain of the MLB Texas Rangers, and Thunderbug of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning) was fourth.
Billy the Marlin was an integral part of the victorious Red Team on day one, and Sebastian the Ibis helped pave the way for the winning Green Team on day two. Where Billy and Sebastian got to raise the cup -- hold and hoist the championship team trophy -- Stanley C. Panther wasn’t as fortunate.
Still, Stanley C. put forth a championship effort, captaining the Yellow Team to the best two-day effort, finishing second twice. Placing runner-up didn’t garner a trophy, but winning smiles from fans did, and Stanley C. earned that ultimate trophy from the heart.
Stanley C. Panther at the Mascot Games
All the mascots did a good job, putting a lot of smiles on a lot of faces (young and young at heart). The mascots are acrobatic, fun, lovable, silly, sneaky, make fashion statements and can sure dance. They don’t talk, but their actions speak volumes, and they have actions aplenty. They also posed for plenty of photos with kids, teens and adults. Stormy, in particular, did a good job hamming it up for the cameras.
Special mention to Fin the Whale for traveling more than 2,500 miles to compete in his 12th Mascot Games. Lil Red was a crowd-pleaser, and Slamson the Lion and Fin were awesome as usual, working the crowd. Bango, Champ and Orbit also deserve kudos for their fan interaction.
On day two during the fatal four-way joust competition, two of the four mascots automatically eliminated themselves, leaving Thunderbug of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning against Tommy Hawk of the NHL Chicago Blackhawks in a rematch of the Stanley Cup finals. Tommy Hawk, like his Blackhawks did, won bragging rights, eliminating Thunderbug. After the Games, fans enjoyed posing for photos with Tommy Hawk and his homemade Stanley Cup.
Keep an eye on Billy the Marlin. After the Games on day two, our lovable fish swiped the trophy from an unaware Slamson and gave it to a fan. The fan did return it to a perplexed but relieved lion. During the dance contest on day one, Billy took the No.10 scorecard from Wawa mascot Wally Goose, one of the judges. Billy did return the 10 to the bewildered goose just in time for him to reveal a 10. Unfortunately for Billy, it was for another team. In the basketball type shooting contest, the sly Billy took one of the balls from the bucket, waited calmly for the game to start and then hit opponent Tommy Hawk with it, distracting the Stanley Cup winning bird. It appeared Billy would do the same to Stanley C. Panther, but instead they hugged, respecting their South Florida bond.
The mascots share a bond with charismatic pro wrestlers.
N.J. Devil of the NHL New Jersey Devils posed ala Hulk Hogan after his OUC The Reliable One Green Team won the championship on day two. His champion teammate, Slamson the Lion of the NBA Sacramento Kings, sported tassels ala the Macho Man Randy Savage. Fin the Whale of NHL Vancouver Canucks, captaining the Florida Hospital for Children Blue Team, ripped his T-shirt, Hulk Hogan style, during the Mascot Games Draft & New Hope for Kids Dinner Party the night before the games at the New Hope for Kids facility in Maitland.
Kids love Alberta of the NCAA University of Florida Gators.
The audience, many kids, were involved by supporting a team as designated by seat location, making a loud cheering section for each team. Kids also answered questions to score points for their team.
Thanking the Mascot Games mascots:
• Alberta – University of Florida
• Bango – Milwaukee Bucks
• Billy the Marlin – Miami Marlins
• Captain Fear – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
• Carlton – Toronto Maple Leafs
• Champ – Dallas Mavericks
• Fin the Whale – Vancouver Canucks
• Kingston – Orlando City Soccer Club
• Knightro – UCF
• Lil’ Red – University of Nebraska
• Louie – St. Louis Blues
• N.J. Devil – New Jersey Devils
• Orbit – Houston Astros
• Rangers Captain – Texas Rangers
• Raymond – Tampa Bay Rays
• Rowdy – Dallas Cowboys
• Sebastian – University of Miami
• Shades – Orlando Solar Bears
• Slamson the Lion – Sacramento Kings
• Stanley C. Panther – Florida Panthers
• Stormy – Carolina Hurricanes
• STUFF – Orlando Magic
• ThunderBug – Tampa Bay Lightning
• Tommy Hawk – Chicago Blackhawks
Also deserving praise
Mascot Games emcee Scotty B was outstanding with assistance from audience reporter Jamia Erban. Good job, too, by New Hope for Kids Executive Director David Joswick, New Hope for Kids Volunteer & Marketing Manager Gloria Capozzi and all the volunteers including Gina Savedra-Volunteer Coordination-Mascot Games; Ron Kaplan-Corporate Partnerships-Mascot Games; Lynn Hoppes-Talent and Media Relations-Mascot Games; Jeff Melinat-Mascot Manager; and Marlon Lozano-Mascot Manager. K4 Solutions Founder/President Kevin Coulthart, Christian Bruey of WFTV Ch.9 Orlando, DJ Reinaldo Crespo, halftime performer Gina Marie Incandela, and social media savvy photographers and videographers Charles Cardwell and Kristin Alexander.
About the Mascot Games
“The Mascot Games, presented by Wawa, truly is one of Central Florida’s most unique and entertaining family events and annually raises valuable profile and funds for New Hope for Kids,” said David Joswick, Executive Director of New Hope for Kids. “We could not have such a tremendous impact without our sponsors, and we would like to sincerely thank Wawa for their presenting sponsorship this year.”
All proceeds from the Mascot Games, presented by Wawa, benefit New Hope for Kids, which provides support to children and families grieving the death of a loved one and also grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses in Central Florida.
“Community events like the Mascot Games are a true asset for the City Beautiful,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “We are proud to partner with outstanding local organizations, such as New Hope for Kids, to bring the community to the Amway Center to raise money for a worthy cause.”
Wawa has been involved with the Mascot Games since Wawa opened its first store in Orlando. When offered the opportunity to be the presenting sponsor, Wawa jumped at the chance to support this great event for a great cause.
Since its inception, the Mascot Games has raised more than $300,000 for New Hope for Kids.
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About New Hope for Kids
Since 1996, New Hope for Kids has been helping Central Florida children in need. Its purpose is to bring hope, healing and happiness to children and families suffering from grief, loss or life-threatening illnesses. New Hope for Kids achieves this through two programs:
The Center for Grieving Children helps children and families cope with the feelings of grief and loss after the death of a loved one.
Wishes for Kids grants wishes to children up to age 19, diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
For information visit www.newhopeforkids.org.