Find Hilarious Furry Fun with Mascots at Mascot Hall of Fame

A day out with mascots is something you and the kids won’t soon forget. Find out why this out-of-the-ordinary children’s museum is one you’ll want to visit again and again.

Our favorite sports team mascots are a whole lot wacky, often furry and always full of fabulous fun. And when it comes to celebrating the mascots that make us all smile, there’s no better place than the official Mascot Hall of Fame just over the Indiana border in Whiting.

But this rare combination of highly interactive hands-on children’s museum and its official Hall of Fame designation — it is held to the same standards as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. — makes the Mascot Hall of Fame an especially affordable good time for all ages. Not to mention, the mascot to the mascots, the affable Reggy, brings an extra dose of playfulness to every visit.

“This is a museum unlike any other museum,” says Karen Anaszewicz, executive director of the Mascot Hall of Fame. “We have a really unique and fun way to teach children and they don’t even know that they are being taught. It’s super clean, super family friendly. We have something going on all the time.”

Though the museum dedicated to celebrating the best of the best mascots was only open 16 months before COVID-19 forced its shutdown, the team used the time to make the STEAM-based museum even better.

“It gives us a really unique perspective for teaching children in our STEAM-based activities and exhibits because when a child comes through the building, they learn what it takes to be a mascot,” she says.

From the moment you step inside the bright, colorful museum just off Lake Michigan’s shore, there’s a WOW factor. Anaszewicz recently called a timeout from all the play to share reasons why families should visit (or return) to the Mascot Hall of Fame this year.

Silly, furry mascots-themed fun

It’s a museum created to bring out kids’ creativity in a way found nowhere else in Chicagoland. Want to try a virtual T-shirt shooter in a game? Yes. Build your own mascot? Yes. Dance with Reggy? Yes. That’s just a start.

“There is something to do in every inch of the 25,000 square feet of this museum. It’s very sensory friendly,” she says.

While learning what it takes to be a mascot in the Science of Silliness, kids experience how much a mascot head weighs, see the world through the mascot’s eyes and learn the best foods to be healthy as kids race against their friends or parents. They’ll even learn all about body smells, a crowd fave!

In the Department of Phuzzical Education, kids can run off steam playing basketball, hockey, baseball, soccer and football or simply climbing around on the play structure to their heart’s content. “There’s so much fun here. It’s perfect for a rainy day,” Anaszewicz says.

In Dr. Frankfurstein’s workshop found in the Department of Furry Arts, kids can build their own mascots Mr. Potato Head style or go high-tech with computer imaging. Even the youngest toddlers can hear a tiny mascot storytime monthly.

All about the mascots

While Reggy is usually on site when the museum is open, expect appearances from mascots at least twice a month on Saturdays, making it an especially great day to visit. However, Anaszewicz notes, it’s common for a team mascot just to saunter in the door unannounced to check out the Hall of Fame.

While kids see the museum as a whole lot of fun, parents and grandparents will love the mascot artifacts (costumes and feet!) and interactive kiosks dedicated to the Hall of Famer mascots. Everyone will leave learning something they didn’t know.

This year’s mascot induction ceremony June 18 is expected to be huge – and everyone is invited 10 a.m.-5 p.m. to the Fan Fest outside the museum and the meet-and-greets inside the museum for Mascot Mania. To keep it affordable to everyone, regular museum admission applies.

Globie from the Harlem Globetrotters and every South Sider’s favorite, Southpaw from the Chicago White Sox, are this year’s inductees. And because 2021 was a virtual ceremony, most of last year’s inductees will be on hand, too. That includes Youppi from the Canadiens (the first international mascot inducted), Blue from the Indianapolis Colts and Boomer from the Indiana Pacers. Oriole Bird from the Baltimore Orioles has a game day conflict unfortunately.

Affordable fun

Mascot Hall of Fame has pledged to keep itself affordable for families. The first Friday of every month this year is free, thanks to Notre Dame Federal Credit Union, and the museum belongs to the Museums for All program to keep costs down for families.

Even private parties, whether birthday parties, bridal parties or baby showers, are super affordable, she says.

“There’s no point of having a resource like this unless people can get to it,” Anaszewicz says.

Plus, Chicago families will find the museum just 30 minutes from downtown and it’s also a quick drive from the suburbs. While the museum can fill up a day, families can make it a real day-cation with a stop at the Whiting Lakefront Park, with its 15 acres of play area and picnic spots right on Lake Michigan, or take in a game at Oil City Stadium, where the Northwest Indiana Oilmen, the region’s Midwest Collegiate League, play, all within walking distance of the museum.

Mascot Hall of Fame is open Wednesday-Saturday. Find out more and see the mascot and event schedule at mascothalloffame.com.

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