Denver's iconic Big Blue Bear— officially called "I See What You Mean" — got some big exposure last Friday when Visit Denver staffer Tyler Wilcox donned a blue bear costume for an appearance on Good Morning America, touting this town's holiday window on Times Square.
So what was it like under that blue, blue exterior? To find out, we contacted Wilcox, online content editor for the visitors' bureau (to read the entire Q&A, go to blogs.westword.com/latestword).
Westword (Joel Warner): So what was it like this morning?
Tyler Wilcox: There were all these other mascots. Winter Park Willy was there. He's a moose. There was the shark from the aquarium. Sharky, I think. Yeah, the shark. He was kind of impressive, because he had a helper. I don't know if the person inside could see. There was a mascot from the Butterfly Pavilion. It wasn't a butterfly; it was a grasshopper kind of thing. There was something from the Boondocks Fun Center. I think that was a dog. I don't know if he had a name. There wasn't a dressing room for all the mascots to hang out. Which...was okay. I didn't get to interact with the other mascots. Maybe next time.
What about Dinger?
The Rockies guy?
Yeah, the crappy Rockies mascot.
Isn't he a dinosaur? Yeah, he wasn't there. It's the off-season, so he's probably in Florida.
How did you prepare to be the Big Blue Bear?
It's kind of a blank canvas, a form to really work on the character. I watched a lot of movies about bears. I tried to get the mannerisms down. Just how a bear would wave at a camera. You can't really find footage of bears waving at cameras, but you have to put yourself in that frame of mind.
Tell me about the bear outfit.
Well, it's blue. And I can see through the eyes of the bear. I think Sharky was looking through the mouth.
Was it smelly?
It wasn't smelly. I was expecting it to be. I think maybe the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau washes it after every use.
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This wasn't staff writer Joel Warner's only recent wildlife encounter. He also had a run-in with Scott Hogan, general manager of the Downtown Aquarium, when he asked whether the piranha tank at the former Ocean Journey should have a sign warning people not to stick their hands in it (something Warner was grotesquely tempted to do).
As Warner recounted on our Latest Word blog, his interview with Hogan began like this: "'Are these family-friendly piranhas?' I wondered. 'Would they not nibble on stupid visitors?' Well, replied Hogan, 'I'm sure if you didn't feed them for a while...' He trailed off, letting me ponder this image of ravenous, bloodthirsty creatures. Then he asked, 'Are you writing this down?' I noted that I was. He went silent. 'I am not commenting,' he finally announced."
For the rest of their blood-curdling conversation and an enlightening followup with marine biologist Jim Prappas, who works for Landry's Restaurant Inc., the chain that owns the aquarium, log on to westword.com.