Rock Hill’s mascot ‘Rocky’ heads to Capital One Bowl game


Jadeveon Clowney, the Dixon brothers and a handful of other University of South Carolina football players won’t be the only Rock Hill natives making an appearance at the Capital One Bowl Wednesday.Rocky

The Rock Hill High Bearcat himself, “Rocky,” will be performing during a pregame show. Rocky is known to his friends and family as Rock Hill High junior Jacob Strickland.
Jacob has taken a costume that occasionally got put on by a cheerleader into a community icon, said Rock Hill assistant varsity cheerleading coach Debra Crenshaw. She’s seen Rocky, and Jacob, turn into so much more than a person in a furry costume who waves and dances around at a few football games.
“He has just taken to the mascot like no other,” Crenshaw said.
Jacob fell into mascoting by accident, said his mother, Becky Strickland, who works at Castle Heights Middle School. Three years ago, Jacob, who was already in high school, was doing his homework in her office after school one day when the school needed someone to put on the Castle Heights Knight costume for an event. Jacob agreed to do it.
“And he was just a natural,” she said. “We called the high school and asked them how he could get involved in mascoting at Rock Hill.”
Countless sporting events and community appearances later, being Rocky has almost become a full-time job, Strickland said, but Jacob wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s just fun,” he said.
Jacob went to not one, but two mascot camps to work on his performance skills last summer. He learned the do’s and don’ts of mascoting. He even has a manual of mascot rules.
Yes, there are rules, called “Mascot Commandments,” and Jacob follows them, almost to a T. For instance, he never sits still for more than 15 seconds. He also never talks while in costume.
But one rule Jacob likes to break every now and then is the one about taking breaks every 40 minutes or so to cool down and get some air outside the costume. He likes being Rocky too much to strictly follow that rule. To help with the inevitable heat in the costume, he has a vest that can be loaded with ice packs to wear beneath the Bearcat fur, as well as a small fan.
Over the last few years, the Strickland family has really become the Rocky team. Jacob’s dad, James Strickland, built the rock that Rocky comes out of at the football games and the family set up a system with a walkie talkie so that Rocky can walk around at events by himself, but still get instructions from someone outside the suit.
“We stay within vision, but we give him space to build his own character,” Becky Strickland said.
Before Jacob and his family came along, there was no “Rocky,” said Rock Hill athletic director Bill Warren. Jacob even came up with the name to help create the character.
“It’s awesome,” Warren said. “He’s a valuable asset to our athletic program.”
When he’s not in the Rocky costume, Jacob is quiet, and shy, even. He plays in the Rock Hill HIgh band and works hard in school. But when he becomes Rocky, he turns into someone else, said Crenshaw.
“He comes alive once that costume goes on,” she said.
Jacob said he and Rocky aren’t too different in personality.
“Rocky is the man to be,” Jacob said. “He’s goodhearted and he’s tough, but he has a good time.”
One of the things Jacob learned at mascot camp is that the personality of the mascot needs to stay with the mascot, even when the person in the costume graduates. That’s why he, his family, Crenshaw and Warren are hopeful they’ll be able to establish an apprenticeship program, to keep the tradition of Rocky alive after Jacob graduates in 2015.
Rocky does a lot more than just come to football and basketball games, which tend to draw the bigger crowds. Warren said Jacob attends nearly every athletic event, no matter what sport it is. Rocky also gets lots of requests to appear at community events, Warren said.
He makes plenty of appearances at elementary schools where, Crenshaw said, Jacob really excels.
“If there’s kids, he does really great with them,” she said. “You want people like that to represent your school.”
And Jacob’s mascoting career isn’t going to end when he’s got his Rock Hill High diploma, yet another thing becoming Rocky has done for Becky Strickland’s son.
“He never really talked about college before, and now he talks about it all the time,” she said.
Warren said many people don’t realize there are scholarships to be had for mascoting.
And at the Capitol One Bowl, where the Gamecocks will take on Wisconsin, Jacob will have a chance to meet one of his mascot idols, USC’s “Cocky.” It’s pure luck it worked out that way, Strickland said.
Jacob’s Rocky was named an “All-American” mascot at a Universal Cheerleaders Association camp last summer. Just 12 percent of all mascots who auditioned made the cut. Of the 40 mascots performing Wednesday, Rock Hill High is the only school from South Carolina represented, Strickland said.
And while Jacob has known for months he’d be performing at the bowl, until a month ago, he didn’t know that one of the teams playing would be the Gamecocks, his family’s favorite team. The USC roster includes Clowney and Gerald Dixon of South Pointe High School and Gerald Dixon Jr. of Northwestern High School.
“It worked out great,” Jacob said of their good fortune.
Jacob’s Rocky and other mascots from across the country have been in Florida this week. They will perform during the pre-game show Wednesday. . After the show, the University of South Carolina will play the University of Wisconsin at 1 p.m. on ABC and ESPN3.
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Do Native American Mascots Actually Cost Their Teams Money?

The “face of the franchise” debate in sports is always a curious one, because no matter how popular or talented a player might be, his face is not the one on the team’s uniforms or merchandise. That is reserved for the mascot—the unnamed, disembodied heads adorning uniforms, as well as the Philly Phanatics and Mr. Mets roaming the sidelines. And while the neurotic culture of sports is to rank everything it touches, some of the most basic questions about mascots remain unexamined. Here, we will attempt to answer a simple one: Which kind of mascot is the most profitable and, presumably, popular?
We should emphasize that, statistically speaking, this is a “tricky” area. There simply isn’t enough variation in the world for us to perfectly identify how a specific or even a type of mascot impacts the fortunes of a given team. For example, in the case of Native American themed mascots our perfect “data” would include examples of teams switching back and forth between Indian and non-Indian mascots. This doesn’t mean that it is impossible to study how different types of mascots impact financial performance. It just means that we have to make some assumptions, and we have to make clear how these assumptions limit our results.

We’ve previously looked at how Native American mascots affect profitability, but that was keyed in on NCAA basketball, and only the Native American mascots. Here, we’ve gone a little deeper, and examined teams in the MLB and NFL with various types of mascots. That is to say, does being named the Eagles earn more money than being named the Cowboys (or, notably, the Redskins)? The short answer: Historically, teams like the Redskins, Chiefs, and Braves have been far more profitable than those with other types of mascots, but something’s changed in recent years. According to our model, they’re actually costing their teams money.
Earlier this year, we performed a preliminary analysis of the financial impact of Native American themed mascots. (The key result was that switching away from a Native American mascot didn’t have a long-term negative effect.) That analysis was based on the simple idea that we could build a statistical model of team box office revenues as a function of team quality (winning percentage, playoff participation, etc.) and market potential (market population, median income, stadium capacity, etc.). During the study, we included a binary (i.e. dummy or indicator) variable in these regressions to indicate if the team had a Native American mascot. We also included an interaction variable between the Native American dummy variable and the year to account for changing consumer preferences.
The most common question coming out of that research was how other types of mascots were affected. This seems simple on the surface, but it was actually far from straightforward. Our first stumbling block was how to determine the different mascot categories. For example, we could have a classification of “human” mascots but then the question arises of if we should differentiate between aggressive humans such as Pirates or Raiders and the gentler Padres or Saints. And then you get to the animals: Should we have a separate category for birds? What about aquatic animals? Or non-threatening animals? Do we need a special category for terrifying lucha libre birds of prey who have come for our children?
To get a handle on these questions, and to avoid simply clumping a few groups together arbitrarily, we created something called a perceptual map. Perceptual maps are used in marketing to visually display the perceptions of customers or potential customers along a number of dimensions (e.g. affordability, social appeal). For our mascot study, the map was based on survey data that asked subjects to rate the similarity between team names. The survey involved 18 team names split between the NFL and MLB. We tried to assemble a cross section of names that included different types of animals (Tigers, Bears, Dolphins), humans (Rangers, Packers, Pirates), miscellaneous names (Rockies, Giants) and a split between baseball and football. The technical term for the procedure is Multidimensional Scaling (MDS).
MDS is great in that we allow subjects the freedom to rate items however it makes sense to them, but this freedom comes with a cost: the data they generate can look like goddamn chaos. That is to say, the perceptual maps generated do not come with labeled dimensions, so we have to translate the associations into what the subjects . We generated a three dimensional perceptual map (using SAS software). Dimension 1 (the horizontal axis in the chart below) seems to roughly correspond to human versus animal mascots. We say roughly because Cardinals are rated more “human” on this axis than Packers—probably because the Cardinals have anthropomorphized, angry bird mascots while the closest the Packers come to a talisman is a hat that looks like Swiss cheese and maybe the letter G. So obviously, a potential issue with our study is that subjects are rating the team names based on factors beyond the literal meaning of the name. This is probably unavoidable given the focal nature of sports teams in American culture.

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Power Ranking the 25 Most Popular Mascots Ever

When the team needs that extra energy and the fans require someone to get them out of their seats, who does one call?
Why, a mascot of course!

phillie phanatic
But what makes a popular mascot? Is it the style, dance moves, a large fanbase and its illustrious history? That all factors into it.
Whether it’s a gold panner or a live animal, these mascots have stories. Or bizarre origins.
Here are the 25 most popular mascots ever.
No. 25 Sourdough Sam
No. 24 YoUDee
No. 23 Youppi!
No. 22 Freddie and Freida
No. 21 Big Red
No. 20 Sammy the Slug
No. 19 The Suns Gorilla
No. 18 San Diego Chicken
No. 17 Goldy Gopher
No. 16 Mike the Tiger
No. 15 Super Frog
No. 14 Sparty
No. 13 Bernie Brewer
No. 12 Bucky Badger
No. 11 Aubie
No. 10 Brutus Buckeye
No. 9 Puddles
No. 8 Sebastian the Ibis
No. 7 Chief Osceola and Renegade
No. 6 Smokey
No. 5 Uga Bulldog
No. 4 Bevo
No. 3 Sooner Schooner
No. 2 Mr. Met
No. 1 Phillie Phanatic


You can also get your favorite mascot costume from
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Puss in Boots,Hackney Empire, London-review

Once more into Pantoland, this time to savour the curious story of Puss in Boots, identified by my young companion as a cat who “hangs out with Shrek and Donkey”. Kat B, our feline friend at Hackney Empire, has purr-fect dance moves, a Jamaican accent and is a bit of a ladies’ cat, to judge by his chatting up of the female members of the audience. He introduces us to a wild and whirling narrative derived from the classic fairytale and involving good and evil, a witch, a fairy, greed, snobbery, a royal coup and a grumpy ogre. It’s appropriately brave of the theatre’s expert pantomime writer and director Susie McKenna to venture into new territory for this year’s show, but the unfamiliar story does take its toll, even delivered in handsome style by Hackney’s experienced pantomime team.

puss in bootsIt’s a big, good-natured show, featuring many of the well-loved staples: mess, audience participation and some great pastiche musical numbers by Steven Edis. There is a particularly neat, old-fashioned dame, Nettie Knowall, who can trump the internet for endless and useless facts and is played with delicious, spry minxiness by Stephen Matthews.

The show bristles with enjoyable performances, most notably Sharon D. Clarke as the grasping Queen Talulah, whose sensational voice probably reaches the West End when she sings and who swishes her wickedness with great flair. “Go on, boo,” she says contemptuously to the audience. “After all, I am boo-tilicious.” Tony Timberlake is lovely as her mild, dithering king, who helped her dispose of Prince Casper, the rightful ruler of Hackneyonia, in the vain hope of a quiet life. Amy Lennox sulks and stamps as the spoilt Princess Pertunia and Darren Hart is sweetly ditsy as Dame Nettie’s forgetful daughter Amnesiah.

They all deliver with polish and energy, which is as well because the storyline is as mysteriously tangled as the Christmas tree lights when you first take them out of the box. There are so many layers you get lost en route and the story lacks focus and purpose. Puss in Boots, the magic cat, saves the day, though it’s not entirely clear how, and his master, nice but anodyne Thomas, has even less to do, meaning young audience members don’t have a clear, brave hero or heroine to follow. Plenty of individual moments to enjoy, but by the end you feel a bit like a cat that has been chasing its own tail.

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Christmas celebrations around the world

TORONTO – There are the Christmas markets in England, Santa parades in South Korea and even Pancho Claus surrounded by children in Texas. The holidays are in full swing around the world.
Take a look at how different countries are celebrating Christmastime.
In downtown Seoul, South Korea, more than 1,000 volunteers clad in Santa Claus costumes throw their hats in the air as they gather to deliver gifts for the poor. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)Christmas

In London, U.K., shoppers flock to the Winter Wonderland attraction in Hyde Park. The temporary festive theme park runs for over six weeks around Christmas and features an ice rink, rides and food and gift stalls. The attraction runs every day except Christmas until Jan. 5. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Palestinian children dressed up as Santa Claus pose for a photograph at Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. (Majdi Mohammed/Getty Images)

In a Hong Kong shopping mall, visitors play with shredded paper and Christmas decorations during Christmas Eve. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Pancho Claus, Rudy Martinez, prepares to hands out gifts in a class during a visit to Knowlton Elementary School, in San Antonio. Pancho Claus, a Tex-Mex Santa borne from the Chicano civil rights movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is now an adored Christmas fixture in many Texas cities. (Eric Gay/AP photo)

Indian Christians hold candles ahead of Christmas in Ahmadabad, India, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. Though Hindus and Muslims comprise the majority of the population in India, Christmas is celebrated with much fanfare. (Ajit Solanki/AP Photo)

In Sydney, Australia, shoppers flock to stores as retailers experience boost in sales. Australian retailers experience some of their busiest trades in the days leading up to Christmas with at least $20 billion spent already. (Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)


People sing Christmas carols at the fifth annual carol service being held inside the 13th century St Giles church in the village of Imber on December 21, 2013 on Salisbury Plain, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

A diver dressed in a Santa Claus costume swims with fish at Qingdao Underwater World on December 24, 2013 in Qingdao, China. (China Foto Press/Getty Images)

A close up of rowers dressed in Santa Claus costumes take part in the Christmas costume Regatta on the Grand Canal on December 21, 2013 in Venice, Italy. The Christmas Regatta, now in it’s fourth year, is an event organised by University of Ca Foscari. (Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

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Are these the most elaborate Christmas party outfits?


Finding the right outfit for the office Christmas costume party can be stressful, but engineers at Dyson have taken festive dressing to a new level.eagle

The Christmas party thrown by British engineering firm Dyson puts others to shame with an elaborate design extravaganza.

This year’s theme was “topsy turvy” and featured a burning hydrant, upside-down living room and a robotic backwards bird.

Meanwhile, employees tried to out do eachother with the most inventive costume as boss James Dyson turned up to judge the best entries.

Engineers used cardboard, metal and discarded parts of Dyson technology to create an elaborate range of costumes, including an eagle costume with a four metre wing span, flying pigs and roller coasters. There was only one Santa Claus mascot who arrived in a custom-made upside-down robotic sleigh.
It will make your sequins and tinsel all seem a bit tame.

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Families Celebrate At Annual Father Woody Christmas Party


More than 3,000 families celebrated with a holiday meal, gifts, and live music at the downtown Sheraton Hotel for the Father Woody Christmas Party on Sunday.

Christmas party01

Hundreds of volunteers donated money to keep the Christmas tradition alive.

“It’s a beautiful thing to see the joy, especially of course, on some of the children’s faces when they get a present and that present has their name on it. That’s one of the things we do. They are personalized, so that’s a real beautiful thing see,” said Father Chris Uhl from Oblates of the Virgin Mary.

The tradition was started 30 years ago by Monsignor Charles Woodrich, also known as Father Woody. In my opinion,Why not get some cute and popular Christmas costumes as Santa Claus Mascot Costume,Panda costume and Yo gabba gabba costume to hold a Father Woody Christmas party with your family or your friends! It must be the most amazing time!

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How to behave at the office Christmas party

Men – how should you conduct yourself at the work Christmas bash? Danae Mercer (and her female friends) offer some words of advice

“I think it’s great when guys aren’t afraid to be silly. It makes things really entertaining,” said one friend. Plus, the instant you get out there, it makes it that much easier for us to get out there too.
Just don’t go for the grind. We’re colleagues – not mistletoe lovers.

Christmas party
Go for the suit
Men look great in suits. If that’s not reason enough, you wearing suits means we can put on our holiday best. “Usually I want to wear something nice, a bit sparkly. If men are in jeans and a shirt, it will make me feel a bit odd,” noted one friend.
Try to be inclusive
“This doesn’t always happen, but sometimes if there are a lot of guys in a group, they can talk about guy stuff. And then they don’t mingle as much as they could with the ladies. I am all about the mingling,” said a friend.
Go big with secret Santa
“I do look for the guys for the most amusing secret Santa costume gift… because sometimes, let’s face it, girls tend to go for ‘nice’ presents,” added another.
If you’ve got a crush, be discreet
Office crushes are a whole lot of skating on thin ice, and I don’t envy you if you have one. But if your heart’s passion works at the desk opposite you, should you tell her at the office Christmas party?
“Not unless you want the office to be talking the next day. I’d prefer a guy to pick a more discreet moment if they really liked me,” said a friend.
Almost all of the women I spoke to agreed that the office Christmas party was most definitely not the place to confess your deepest feelings
Instead, buy your crush a drink. Give her a compliment, “but not in a ‘that dress looks nice, now take it off’ kind of way,” to quote a friend. Talk to her about her life outside the office. Use the party as a chance to drop a note the next day, asking if she’d like to go for a glass of wine.
Don’t get too drunk
Please, dear suited sirs, walk away from that eighth mulled wine. Put down the eggnog shooter. And do not, under any circumstances, go for the port jaegerbomb.
“When colleagues get too drunk, it’s just a pretty big turn-off,” noted a friend.
We have to work with you in the morning. So seeing you sing your heart out to Miley, or getting a bit ill in the corner, isn’t exactly ideal.
Don’t go for the smutty
Unfortunately, every so often, party humour strays into the inappropriate. Or that hand slips from the shoulders to the back to the bum. It can be a bit awkward, especially if we’re going to be discussing 2014′s regional sales strategy the following morning.
“While banter and amusement is lovely, I’d rather gents stay on the right side of humour. Sometimes there can be a tendency to slip into rowdy territory when too many beers have been consumed,” said a friend.
The solution? Know your limits. “Never, ever get so drunk that you become touchy-feely. Otherwise it’s very uncomfortable when you go back at work,” said another.
Just be your charming selves
These are just some small tips to make the Christmas costume party that much nicer. At the end of the day, stay classy and all will be fine. Don’t drink to excess. Don’t get grabby. Just have fun, let us get to know your life outside the office, and if you’re feeling a bit bold, come meet us on the dance floor.

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Animal shelter mascot Skeeter T-shirts make good Christmas gifts; shelter balancing budget

The most popular image on the Facebook page of the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake is undoubtedly Skeeter, and he is featured on the animal shelter’s T-shirts now.

Skeeter, a 12-year-old Pomeranian arrived the shelter in December 2012 because of his owner’s health problems. A shelter volunteer fostered him, later adopted him, and has made him a star during the last gift

Now, just in time for Christmas, Skeeter T-shirts are on sale. They would make a great gift for any animal lover, and it would also help out the shelter in its ongoing mission to balance the budget.

HSCCL President Donny Shubert reported in the shelter’s holiday newsletter the organization is well on its way to financial recovery. An emergency fundraiser this fall generated $32,371.46, he said.

Additionally, the shelter is renegotiating its contracts with Henderson and Kaufman Counties and the cities surrounding the lake to generate more income. In the future, the counties will pay per-animal fees rather than a flat rate per year for delivery of animals.. “Both counties have agreed to pay a fee per animal, which should allow us to recover our operating expenses,” Shubert said.

Cities are being asked to increase their per-animal payments from $17.50 per animal to $45. “We are still negotiating with our partner cities and hope to have finalized agreement by the end of the month.”

Several cities have agreed to the rate increases, and the Kemp and Mabank City Councils officially approved the agenda items last week.

The shelter is also launching a new program seeking sponsors to make regular monthly donations that can automatically be deducted from checking accounts.

The T-shirts are available at the Dairy Queen in Seven Points and Kemp, and they are also available at the shelter.

Plans are underway for a dinner benefit in January to benefit HSCCL, a Super Bowl Tail Gate Party hosted by Mabank Fire Department and the 2nd Annual 2014 Gala for Animals at Cedar Creek Country Club benefiting HSCCL and Friends of the Animals in April.

If you are still Christmas chopping please see below. You can shop and help the shelter by shopping at Adopt A Shelter. Click Here.

The shelter has also created an Wish List on Amazon where people can go and purchase items for the shelter and have them sent directly to the shelter. It can be accessed through amazon directly here.

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Exclusive interview: Birdie on his job as GreeNYC’s mascot and working with the mayor to promote sustainability


With just two weeks until Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaves office, Birdie, a two-dimensional Quaker Parrot, is nostalgic.

Since joining the Bloomberg administration in 2007 — hired to be the face of GreeNYC — Birdie has travelled across the five boroughs to promote sustainable practices, often modeling for public service campaigns and posing with the mayor.

In an exclusive interview with Metro, Birdie discusses his official duties, his first press conference with Bloomberg, fame and his hopes for the future.


Metro: Tell me a little about yourself.

Birdie: I was born in Brooklyn but these days I have a nest in every borough. I can fly but I can’t touch my toes. I don’t migrate — I’d miss NYC too much. I wasn’t born green, I’ve learned most of what I know about the environment from this job.

Such as?

Over the years it’s become part of my routine to mend things instead of throwing them out, walk and bike more, only use cold water when washing clothes, keep a reusable bag with me, turn lights off when I leave a room and such. I’m not living a completely sustainable life but I’m doing my best. And if every New Yorker did a little something we could achieve really meaningful results.

As GreeNYC’s mascot, what are your official duties?

Posing — lots of posing! I have been the face of major campaigns promoting NYC tap water, switching to energy efficiency lightbulbs, reducing car engine idling, reducing paper waste from unwanted catalogs and other unwanted mail, energy efficient air conditioning in the summer.

Representing GreeNYC at events. I appear at launches and announcements for many of the city’s green initiatives, often with my boss, Mayor Bloomberg. I also like to go out to various smaller events and to visit organizations doing exciting things to help make NYC greener. It’s a lot of fun.

Keeping in touch with initiatives throughout the city that might need my face. City government is bigger than I ever realized. There’s a lot happening at every agency and this includes environmental initiatives. Part of my job is to keep in touch with people across the city to see where I might lend my face and the success of GreeNYC to reach New Yorkers to change behaviors.

Who comes up with all the costumes/accessories?

Roya Kazemi is the Director of GreeNYC. She’s my direct supervisor and my stylist.

(When asked how many people dress up as Birdie, he replied, “Don’t know what you’re talking about here. I ‘dress up’ for Halloween. I’m happy to talk about me experiences as a cat, pirate and dinosaur.”)

Do you ever get “recognized” by other New Yorkers?

I feel like a celebrity! People recognize me from the PSA campaigns and want to pose for photos. At the last Million Trees planting it took me 40 minutes to walk from the planting site to the lunch area because of all the photo requests. My fan base is very devoted. They see me on the street and quote back tweets of mine or describe their favorite Instagram photos I’ve posted. It’s been so wonderful to see how the program has grown over the years. In the early days there was a lot of “What’s with the Penguin?” (penguin – sheeh!), now it’s “Hey look, it’s Birdie!”

When did you first meet Mayor Bloomberg?

The Mayor and I first met in person at an unseasonably warm Earth Day event in Times Square in 2010. It was my first time in front of so many cameras. I was sweating big time. Questions from the press were being directed at me. I was too shy and overwhelmed to answer. He stepped in and took control of the situation. That’s where our future roles at press events really took shape. He’d field the questions and I’d be the bird behind (or to the left of, or to the right of) our sustainability Mayor.

Under Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio, will it be “bye, bye Birdie”?

GreeNYC has established NYC as the global leader in city-level, data-driven, well-designed, and successfully implemented marketing campaigns around sustainability. I hope the next Administration is going to continue our work and I would be honored to continue to serve and help continue to build an even greener and greater city.

(Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for de Blasio said, “We encourage Birdie and other talented mascots to submit their resumes to”)

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