I left Wyoming early morning and arrived a few hours later at the Salt Lake City airport with plenty of time for my flight to Washington DC. Hours before I was scheduled to leave, my name was called over the intercom stating that my plane was boarding. Curious, I quickly went to the gate.
When I got there, they told me my transferring flight through Chicago was running late, therefore I would miss the connection and not be able to get to Washington that night. The alternative was to hop on a different flight to Baltimore, about 45 minutes north of Washington.
I took it and was promised my checked luggage would be joining me once I arrived.
Well, that didn't quite happen.
When I met Joe, the marketing director of the Capitals, he probably thought, "Wow, what did we get ourselves into? This guy looks like he can't take care of himself - scruffy facial hair and no luggage, yet carrying a distinct odor that can only be attributed to a week spent on a farm."
Fortunately he didn't put me on the next flight out of town. My bags came the next day and I was able to clean up before heading to my first day on the job.
Life of a Mascot
I then entered the world of Professional Mascots. Most people probably think it's an easy job. All mascots seem to do is show up, dance around for a bit, give some high fives, start the wave and make people laugh.
I quickly found out it's a full-time job. Many make a great living doing it, and they take their role very seriously. When it's not a game day, there is other stuff to do: schedule appearances in the community and private functions, take care of the suit, maintain good physical fitness...
I was surprised to find out how much actually goes into it.
I also realized how much goes on behind-the-scenes at a sporting event. As a member of the audience, you grab your seat and expect to be entertained. That truth is that everything is planned down to the minute: when they will do different promotions, run certain contests, play a particular segment.
I was able to attend the pre-game operations meeting and go through the detailed script for the night which was cool.
Getting A Handle
During the game, I followed Slapshot around as his handler, helping with his straps, getting his jersey on. With all the various parts it can be a little challenging. It was great to see the man in action so I could pick up a few pointers before it would be my turn.
At the end of the game, I was given the opportunity to go onto the ice and use the "Pucker Chucker." It's a gun that shoots pucks up into the crowd.
Turns out I would be the third consecutive victim of the Pucker Chucker.
After they announced the three stars of the game, I started firing. The first two came out no problem, but on the third, the compartment that holds the extra pucks exploded - sending the pucks all over the ice (let's not forget this is in an arena filled with about 17, 000 fans).
Luckily I was well warned beforehand that this might happen, so I didn't feel too embarrassed and simply picked up the pucks and starting throwing them into the crowd.
Ice Ice Baby
Being on the ice is an awesome experience. Looking up into the stands, hoping that you don't slip, fall, and make a fool of yourself, you are suddenly everyones best friend.
Why? Because you got free stuff, and for some reason everyone loves free stuff.
It doesn't matter what the random item may be or even though they know when they get home it will just go into a drawer until it's Secret Santa time again next Christmas - the fans still want it.
It is great to see the different reactions. It reminded me of my days as a Pre-school Teacher at Nature's Childcare in Boise, Idaho - everyone is always happy to see you when you walk in the door.
Afterwards we headed to downtown DC. I had a great time interacting with all the people, playing jokes, goofing around, and just making people smile.
Today is another game day - Next up the Boston Bruins. Let's go Caps!!