Welcome Water World’s new mascot: Walliver, successor to and nephew of former mascot Wally the Walrus. Over 1,200 names were submitted in a recent Water World contest to name Walliver after he emerged "from the same arctic sea cave" that his famous uncle came from some thirty years back; his identity was revealed late last week. As the old saying goes, it's a tough job, but some walrus has to do it.
Walliver joins an active throng of local mascots who make Colorado that much more colorful. But that’s not to say that all mascots were created equally. Colorado has mascots good, bad and very, very ugly. Here's how they stack up:
The Five Best Colorado Mascots
5. All of the Frontier Animals
I think we can all agree that at this point, Frontier Airlines is a hollow shell of its former self. But back in the heyday of Denver’s hometown airline, it created one of the best and most memorable ad concepts around. Talking (and funny!) animals that were not only on TV and in print advertising, but also on the tails of the planes? Brilliant. Too bad the ad campaign got largely shelved when massive cutbacks forced the layoffs of most of the talking animals — which, as you might imagine, don’t work cheap.
4. Blaster the Burro (Colorado School of Mines)
Let’s face it: Most mascots are jackasses. The School of Mines is just admirably honest (and literal) about it. The Mines actually has two mascots — Marvin the Miner being the other — and both accomplish exactly what a good college mascot sets out to do: celebrate and give relevance to the school it represents.
3. Rocky (Denver Nuggets)
Rocky the Mountain Lion suffers a bit from his team’s lackluster performance over the past four seasons, as the Nuggets once again failed to be a factor in the NBA Western Conference. But Rocky is still a winner, and his antics are considered among the best in the NBA. Hey, if you can’t win games as often as you’d like, you can at least have a reason to smile, right? That’s what Rocky provides for stalwart Nuggets fans.
2. Ralphie (University of Colorado Boulder)
Ralphie the Buffalo isn’t just the best-known college mascot in Colorado, he’s one of the classic college mascots in the country. When Ralphie comes out to run, it’s not only an amazing sight — it’s a harbinger of good things. The old-school attraction of a live animal tromping around the track cannot be denied.
1. Thunder (Denver Broncos)
Would Thunder top this list if the Broncos didn’t lead the roster of Colorado’s favorite teams? Probably not — but such is the lot of the mascot. Always the obligatory bridesmaid, never the focal-point bride. Still, Thunder has a lot of history behind him: His name recalls the stomping that fans were famous for at the old stadium, and the stout and regal image of a horse galloping across the field never gets old. Thunder celebrates every Broncos score during the game, so here's hoping he continues to ride strong and often come fall.
Keep reading for the five worst Colorado mascots.
The Five Worst Colorado Mascots
5. CAM the Ram
CAM is cute, he's a Coloradan...but he's the victim of a couple of bad circumstances. First, CAM will always sit in the looming shadow of Ralphie the Buffalo, since using a live native animal for a mascot was CU Boulder’s thing first (by over a decade), and CSU just rode those coattails. Second — and perhaps more important — you just don’t want to have a mascot name in all caps. Sure, it's sort of clever that it stands for Colorado Agriculture and Mechanical College, but still...only sort of clever. And in this age of digital communication, all caps means shouting, which is both rude and somehow all the more irritating when it’s a bighorn sheep constantly yelling its own name.
4. Big Blue Bear (unofficial mascot for the City of Denver)
The big blue bear peering into the Colorado Convention Center is officially titled “I See What You Mean,” which is why most people just call it the Big Blue Bear. For better or for worse, it's become an icon of Denver, which is fine, because Denver can use all the identifiers it can get as it grows into a metropolitan powerhouse from the Front Range cowtown it once was. The best thing the Big Blue Bear has going for it? It’s not Blucifer.
3. Bernie (Colorado Avalanche)
It’s not that Bernie is a bad mascot — he’s cute enough, and then there’s the St. Bernards-save-people-from-Avalanches. (Which is sort of backwards: Rescue dogs aren’t generally rooting for the disasters, right?) But the main complaint that Avs fans have about Bernie is that he’s not Howler, the hirsute yeti mascot that originally cheered on Colorado hockey. Sports fans know better than anyone: You dance with the one that brung you.
2. Dinger the Dinosaur (Colorado Rockies)
Dinger is one of the least favorite mascots in Major League Baseball. We've regularly called for his ouster, and the Denver Post has referred to him (rightly) as “Barney on a meth binge.” Why a dinosaur to represent the Rockies? Because fossils were found in the construction of Coors Field, according to the team. Which is a pretty thin reason. They probably found a lot of things in the excavation, including old bums and old bottles. And when you think of Colorado, does anyone think of chubby, pantsless dinosaurs? Well, thanks to Dinger, they might now.
Sure, Shaggy is portrayed by an actual actor, but this character has become one of Colorado’s most memorable mascots — and one that has seriously overstayed his welcome. It’s not just the ubiquity of the Shagman on local television; those Rocky's Autos ads have tended toward the not-funny and oddly inappropriate in recent years. It’s time to retire the Shagman and get back to just selling cars.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.