Dancing and waving to the crowd while wearing a sweltering hot costume, James Dunn and Zach Garrett bring the Raiders mascot to life during basketball and volleyball games.
Dressing up as the Raider and going to events is not a paid position. Both Garret and Dunn take turns volunteering their time.
“I do it to support the athletics department,” Dunn says. “They don’t always get the recognition they deserve.”
The pair shows support by hyping up the crowd through dancing. Dunn’s specialty move is pop-locking. But no matter what either of them does they almost always get a positive response from their audience.
“People usually applaud,” Garrett says, “and they’re usually laughing and taking pictures.”
Of course, they can’t please everyone. Both men agree that some people don’t know how to react to them when they’re dressed as a giant maroon bird. Occasionally someone will give a weird look and walk away.
Children can be on either end of the reaction spectrum.
“Kids either love it and want to get a hug, or are terrified and run away crying,” Dunn says.
Whether the young like the mascot or not, according to Garrett, older generations usually responds positively to the Raiders. He admits that when he’s wearing the costume he flirts with older people in the audience by blowing them kisses.
Though both Dunn and Garrett admit that the costume has its drawbacks (mainly the extreme heat), they keep coming back for more. It’s an excuse to dance, interact with people and support Pierce’s athletes.
When they put the bird head on, it’s a license to be silly.
“I’m already a nut outside of the costume,” Dunn says. “But I probably take it to another level in the suit.”
Next time you go to a volleyball or basketball game, look for the Raider. Chances are, it’s either Dunn or Garrett entertaining the crowd with dance moves and waves.
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