While the student’s family knows their child’s other identity — after all, The Viking sometimes needs a ride — for the most part, his or her fellow students have no idea who plays the role of their beloved mascot.
According to McInnis, school pride has increased since he or she took over the costume.
“When you see the students, K-12, or even the preschool students who come up for games and see that mascot, it’s great,” he said. “I have seen he or she holding babies and families of graduates who want a picture with the mascot. That’s what it’s about. This is about becoming a community. We are three Class A communities and we want to become one outstanding program here. The Viking has helped us do that.”
Being hidden under a costume can also afford a strange freedom and change in personality.
“I would say that, school-spirit wise, it gives me pep in my step,” said The Viking. “It gives me energy. Once I put (the costume) on, I feel like I am in a different world. People don’t view me as who they would see of me as a person.”
“What I hope is that he or she has inspired someone else,” McInnis said. “So when this person graduates, they step right into it.”
As the new year rolls around, The Viking has only a few more months left to enjoy the anonymous glory, but the memories should last quite a while.
“Being able to open my yearbook and say, ‘That’s me. I was The Viking that day.’ “I feel like it will make me happy when I am older.”