Mascot Hall of Fame, Whiting Indiana (30 minutes from Downtown Chicago)
The Mascot Hall of Fame (MHOF) is an interactive children’s museum with the theme of mascots. It is located at the very east end of Whiting’s Downtown Business District and about one block from the Midwest Collegiate League’s Northwest Indiana Oilmen / Oil City Stadium. And in the summer months the MHOF is about a block away from the “Whoa Zone” which is a floating water park.
The MHOF, which was previously online only, was founded by David Raymond, who was the original Phillie Phanatic from 1978 to 1993. One day the city of Whiting Indiana stumbled across the virtual mascot hall of fame while trying to find a way to extend the tourist season for the city (Pierogi Fest weekend draws 300,000 from around the Midwest, its Fourth of July parade between 40,000 and 50,000 and its July 3rd fireworks 15,000). So, they cold-called Mr. Raymond and pitched a brick-and-mortar Hall of Fame (HOF). It opened its doors to the public on Dec 26, 2018 to much delight of all fans of mascots.
The entrance fees are $12 for adults and children over 2, free for children under 2, $10 for seniors and teachers and free for active military. There are one-year memberships for individuals ($35), family ($129), grandparents ($119), Association of Children’s Museums membership ($179), additional family ($20), Reggy’s Rug Rat Club ($20). Of course, separate field trip / group rates are available too. Each has different perks such as guest passes and 10% off at the gift shop and concession stand.
The following mascots are already inducted in to the Hall of Fame:
- The Famous Chicken – (Former San Diego Chicken from Padres)
- Mr. Met – New York Mets
- Slider – Cleveland Indians
- The Phillie Phanatic – Philadelphia Phillies
- Sluggerrr – Kansas City Royals
- Clutch the Bear – Houston Rockets
- Benny the Bull – Chicago Bulls
- Rocky – Denver Nuggets
- The Coyote – San Antonio Spurs
- The Jazz Bear – Utah Jazz
- The Gorilla – Phoenix Suns
- Tommy Hawk – Chicago Blackhawks
- KC Wolf – Kansas City Chiefs
- Aubie – Auburn University
- Big Red – Western Kentucky University
- Brutus Buckeye – Ohio State University
- Bucky the Badger – University of Wisconsin
- Lil Red – University of Nebraska
- Smokey – University of Tennessee
- YoUDee – University of Delaware
- Nittany Lion – Penn State University
As you walk in one of first things you notice is the ATM is covered in fur and that there are a bunch of giant inflated mascot heads (all the Mascot Hall of Fame inductees) hanging from the ceiling of the three-story building.
First Floor (named Phuzzical Education) activities:
- Goofball Arena: Where kids can shoot hoops, kick field goals, shoot hockey pucks, kick soccer balls
- Basic Training: a play area for toddlers to crawl, tunnel etc.
- T-Shooter Stadium: This is an arcade-like game where visitors can “shoot” T-shirts from a cannon and into a crowd and directly adjacent to this area is the “Parents Penalty Box,” which has a several lounge chairs where parents can watch their children play in Goofball Arena, the T-shirt game or the Basic Training area.
- Mascot Mart: Their souvenir store. This store has some really nice shirts from $16 to $45, hats and swag (such as magnets, mugs and other trinkets) that all are reasonably priced. One bad thing about the store is that they don’t have the licensing, yet, to sell stuff featuring the inductees. But the MHOF is working on obtaining the licenses.
- A snack bar with the basics such as hot dogs ($3), nachos ($2.50), slushies ($3), soda ($1.50), juices, chips, candy bars, etc.
Second Floor attractions:
- Fureshman Orientation: A short film explaining the history of the Mascot Hall of Fame.
- A doubled wall “panel of pictures and short explanation of all the inductees of the MHOF. Also, several interactive kiosk video panels have information about each MHOF inductee.
- A hands-on exhibit where kids learn what it is like to be a mascot with interactive activities and videos, such as how difficult is it to hold / grab something with the big hands, how come mascot costumes smell, why mascots have cooling fans in the costume, how hot it is in a costume (you can try on a head), how much does a costume weigh, how a costume is made, and even learn about the human body.
- One of the coolest interactive activities is where participant puts on weights (size portioned) as a mascot would then go through a series of activities and then check their pulses to see how the costume and activity affect the pulse rate and how difficult it is to be in the costume.
- Where is the Mascot From: A game to try guessing correctly in 60 seconds where the mascots are from.
- Centuries of Silliness: A mascot time line that shows the history of mascots from early days to the present. This includes some interesting tidbits on the wall, such as how the Navy (in 1893) and Army (in 1899) started their mascots, Chicago White Sox first “mascot / batboy” in 1919 was Eddie Bennett (a teenage orphan) and who was the first official mascot of the Olympics. In this area, pictures of mascots with famous people, such as the Phillie Phanatic with President Nixon are displayed.
- Frankfurstein’s Mascot Area: Kids “design” their own mascot using parts (heads, bodies, hats, and arms) that available in the area. Also, there is a coloring area where kids can color their own mascot with plenty of tables supplied with crayons. A kiosk is available where one can “design” their own mascot by selecting each part of a mascot is. When you are done, you can have your “Mascot” e-mailed to you.
- Strut your Stuff: A zone where you can make your very own “mascot audition tape.” You select the type of mascot you want to be and go in front of a green screen and are prompted to do several activities. When you are done you can view your video and have it e-mailed to you.
- A display where you can touch the different materials that costumes are made of and you can build your own mascot in the “Build-a-Mascot” area. It is a “Build-a-Bear” but with some different choices of “bears and clothes.” The price range is from approximately $20 to $30 dollars.
- A conference room for private parties and it has a nice view of Lake Michigan.
Another nice touch the MHOF has is after each “area” is completed there is a stamp pad that shows that you have completed the area. Once you have each of the six (6) areas completed, you have “graduated” from Mascot University.
A visit to the MHOF is worth the trip. Everyone who works there is very nice and helpful. Kids and even adults (who can act like a kid here) will love this place as there is a bunch of stuff to keep everyone occupied and entertained.
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