6 Things Every Mascot Handler Should Know.
The 6 Key Duties of a Mascot Handler.
Call them by any name – handler, buddy, escort, companion, cohort – this is the person assigned to make sure every mascot appearance goes smoothly, both for the performer and the public. The role of mascot handler is highly under-valued and often seen as unnecessary, but we believe it is absolutely crucial that every mascot performer is accompanied by a handler, especially for large crowds and for less experienced performers. Here are 6 key duties for every handler.
Handlers should assist the performer with getting in/out of costume. Once the performer puts on their gloves, they likely can’t do much else. Things that typically require assistance are: putting on feet, zipping/fastening the jumpsuit, putting on the head & tightening the helmet, hiding flaps, securing accessories (capes, etc.). Try to become familiar with the workings of the suit ahead of time so you are able to help the performer dress quickly. At the end of the appearance the performer will be hot. Be ready to remove the head quickly and unfasten the body suit so they can take a break.
Help the performer get to and from the appearance area. Preferably you will lead them by the hand and make clear announcements about obstacles such as stairs, furniture dim lighting and narrow doorways. Try to walk the route yourself ahead of time so you are familiar with anything that may be a stumbling point for the mascot. If there are crowds present, politely but firmly ask people to make room for the performer to pass so they can get to their designated area.
Remember that mascots are, for the most part, non-speaking characters. The performer should never speak while in costume, so it’s really up to the handler to communicate with the public on behalf of the character. Be ready with some creative, friendly responses to some of the most common questions, particularly by children. They will be curious and want to have as much interaction with the mascot as possible.
If you are escorting a popular character, there may be large crowds of people all wanting to shake hands and take photos. If you don’t have any kind of queuing system set up, such as stanchions, you can encourage people to line up in an orderly fashion so that everyone will get a turn greeting the mascot. Make the photo-taking experience quick by helping to guide children into position, asking parents to have cameras ready or offering to take the photo if everyone wants in on the action. Keep the process flowing steadily so that as many visitors as possible get their chance to say hello.
Make sure you are fully aware of the appearance schedule and break times. Carry a watch or some kind of time-keeping device, preferably with an alarm function.
If you are doing 30/30 walks (30 minutes in costume, 30 minutes of rest), ensure the mascot is dressed and has enough time to reach the appearance area on time. Similarly, at the end of an appearance block, leave enough time to walk back to the break room. Let the mascot performer know that it will be ‘time for a snack’ in 5 minutes (or some other clever excuse that the public will hear). Also let people know when the mascot will be back for more photos.
While the mascot is out in public, you are their eyes and ears. Always be looking around the immediate area, including to the sides and behind the character. Very often, a performer’s vision is restricted so they will not be able to see small children that approach them. Make them aware by announcing to the mascot that they have ‘a little friend’ who has come to visit. Similarly, you will want to be on the lookout for any possible aggressive behavior by older kids, teens or adults who may decide it would be fun to jostle the mascot around. Do your best to diffuse these situations by engaging the individuals, remaining calm in order to minimize any escalation of excitement. If necessary, you may need to leave the area and escort the mascot back to the break room. If the event has security staff, get to know where they are located in case further assistance is needed.