Our cover story this month is about pet friendly places. That brings to mind a certain type of pet that exists because of its uncanny human-like qualities, the mascot.
In the early days of the Saints franchise there was actually a real St. Bernard dog on a leash that was in attendance at all the games. He was the original Gumbo who was eventually replaced by a costumed version of the big dog.
Hugo, of the Hornets, was the most theatric of all the mascots frequently performing skits during time-outs and even joining the line with the Honey Bees dance team when duty calls. Then there was his slimmed down alter ego, Super Hugo, who would run, bounce off a springboard and carry a basketball through a hoop. No mascot was ever as athletic.
Boudreaux, the mascot for the team formerly known as the Zephyrs, showed a fondness for dancing on dugouts—and a passion for female nutria. One season we watched when he married the lovely Clotilde at the ballpark. (It almost had the majesty of the Prince Harry, Meghan Markle wedding, plus there was baseball after.)
Besides the original Gumbo there was, for a couple of seasons, another real dog who worked the Saints games. Known as Fetch Monster he was an Australian shepherd dog whose job it was to run onto the field and retrieve the kicking tees after a kickoff. The fans loved it, especially during those days when watching a dog snatch a tee was more entertaining than watching the team. Then came the disastrous season of 1999 under Mike Ditka when the Saints finished with a record of 3-13. The day after the season-ended, owner Tom Benson cleaned house, firing not only the entire coaching staff but almost the entire front office too. Even Fetch Monster got caught up in the changes. He was replaced by fetch kids, who were cute, but never generated as many laughs.
Not all kids are cute, of course. Take the New Orleans Baby Cakes’ mascot who is an angry looking king cake baby capable of scaring people from the ballpark. Fortunately the team management had the wisdom to keep Boudreaux who somehow manages to maintain the peace.
Baby Cakes would not be the only mascot to scare people. When the Hornets name was changed named to Pelicans they created a creepy looking bird known as Pierre. There were so many complaints that he went through reconstructive surgery to become the lovable creature he is today, proving perhaps that not only should people be pet friendly, but pets should be people friendly too.