Wednesday, September 24, 2008



I never got that. I never understood why Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion would be afraid of LIONS. I would think that if some lions showed up on the yellow brick road that OUR LION would just say “Hey guys, these are my friends, there cool”

But then again, it made me think that OUR LION was different. He must be different than the other lions in the forest. They probably were the Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom kind of lions. Real lions; not Disney lions and certainly not - kind of gay, cuddly and lovable cowardly lion.

My high school mascot was a kind of gay, lovable lion. Or at least that is how I saw him. Well, that is how I made him. See, from 9th grade all through graduation I was the mystery person inside my school mascot.

The costume was sweet but was obviously made for a man, not a chubby teenage girl. The suit was full-body golden brown fur that covered everything including my hands and bagged at my ankles.

The head was 4 foot high and made of paper machete and pho fur. To keep it balanced on my head, I stitched one of my brothers sweat socks inside in order to create a chin strap that would allow me to see out through the last slot in the Lions mouth. No one could see in and I never spoke my identity preserved - the mystery adding to my method acting.


Unlike those college team mascots that do back flips over the goal post and thrust their firsts in the air to show their teams dominance, our mascot entertained the stands by sitting on peoples laps, getting his picture taken high-fiving 4 year olds and generally goofing it up with crazy-clumsy dance moves.

The Camp Hill High School Lion was FUNNY and NICE and PEOPLE LOVED HIM!

I would get fan mail from parents and kids from around the area telling me how much they enjoyed watching the lion instead of the game. Well, Ok - I got one letter.

My duties as the Lion extended beyond sporting events. I would be asked to perform at different functions where the school needed to be represented; bake sales, community picnics but my favorite where the band events. Oh, this was a high honor. I loved marching in front of the band, those flags and batons behind me and the horns blaring.

My senior year, I was asked to march in front of the band at the annual Dillsburg Halloween parade. This was the #1 parade in central PA, something my parents had taken us to all through my childhood and I was excited.

It was at night time and the streets were lit up and lined with people. I was loving it, and giving it my extra effort. Dancing to the music and hurrying to the sides of the street to greet the little kids before the band would pass.

As we turned the corner to come down the last hill leading to the judging area, the band went into their big number. Now was the moment to give it my best move – the 3 stooges shuffle. Ad I did the last “certainly!”, I realized something was wrong. I was stumbling on a piece of candy thrown from a float and I was going down. One knee, then the other and I put my hands out to brace my fall. I could feel the sock around my chin come loose and my big proud lion head go flying from my shoulders.

I was exposed and humiliated! The lights were bright and I was confused. To make it worse I could hear the laughter and a group of 11 year old boys began to jeer and pelt me with candy corn. It was flying at me from all directions, bouncing off my big furry body, dangerously whizzing by my little human head.

I was shell shocked and started to chase my Lion head as it rolled down the hill – diving and missing it as the crowd laughed and candy came at my face.

I finally got my head back on and regained my external composure, but inside I was deflated and now knew why the cowardly lion was afraid of LIONS and TIGERS and BEARS.

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