History was made in Whiting last weekend. The first ever Mascot Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony was held in our city. If you missed it, make a mental note to attend next year, especially if you can bring along a child.
By my count, around 17 different sports mascots gathered on a stage set up on Front Street, just in front of the Mascot Museum and Hall-of-Fame. Every one of them was a member of the Hall, inducted in the years when the Hall-of-Fame only existed online. There was the Phillie Phanatic from the Philadelphia Phillies, Slider from the Cleveland Indians, Jazz Bear from the Utah Jazz, The Coyote from the San Antonio Spurs, KC Wolf from the Kansas City Chiefs, Bucky Badger from the University of Wisconsin Madison, among others. In all, there are 20 mascots in the Hall-of-Fame, which means almost all of them were present in Whiting at one time.
Before the induction ceremony, led by the Whiting High School Marching Band, many of the mascots paraded down 119th Street from Oil City Stadium to the Mascot Museum. The final four mascots in the parade were the four inductees in this year’s Hall-of-Fame class: The Nittany Lion from Penn State University, Sluggerrr of the Kansas City Royals, and two local favorites, Tommy Hawk of the Chicago Black Hawks, and Benny the Bull from the Chicago Bulls.
Tommy Hawk and Benny the Bull stood on top of vans, dancing to music as they paraded down the street. Benny threw Bulls caps to people lining the parade route.
Also in the parade, riding with Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura, was Hall-of-Fame founder David Raymond. In his remarks from the stage at the start of the induction ceremony, he praised Whiting’s leadership and its people for their hard work and enthusiasm in making the museum a reality. He also said that with its lakefront and with events such as Pierogi Fest, and now the Mascot Hall-of-Fame, Whiting is proving itself to be a place where families can come and have fun. He said he is optimistic that in year one, the Museum and Hall-of-Fame will draw 75,000 visitors to the city.