Storm Chasers' Mighty MascotJun 20, 2013 10:56AM ● By Allison Janda
The interview process wasn’t what one might refer to as typical. Lake had to audition by dressing up in costume and interacting with people along 13th Street from Rosenblatt Stadium all the way down to the zoo. Lake is a mascot for the Omaha Storm Chasers.
Depending on the day and event, Lake has been known to play all three Omaha Storm Chasers’ mascots, including Stormy, Vortex, and Casey. No matter which mascot he plays, however, Lake has no trouble coming up with various antics to entertain the crowd, from initiating a mascot dance-off during a rain delay to leading fans in the latest dance craze from atop the bar in the Jim Beam Club. Another crowd favorite: “I try to do a flip in the Stormy costume on top of the dugout. He’s a little bigger guy, so the crowd enjoys watching that,” Lake shares. And while he doesn’t always visit a specific section, Lake makes a point of circulating the crowd and stepping into the suites during games.
Lake says he especially enjoys Friday and Saturday nights at Werner Park (home to the Storm Chasers since 2011) because there are typically more fans in attendance to entertain. Additionally, Bark in the Park is an event where fans are invited to bring their furry friends to enjoy a game. “It’s fun watching a dog’s reaction [to me in costume]. You have to move in slowly and be cautious so you don’t get bit,” Lake says.
Lake doesn’t just dress up for games. He also wears the costumes to outside benefit appearances, at which he’s made some of his favorite memories. Being a mascot has given him opportunities to get up close and personal with some local celebrities including Warren Buffett, whose hand Lake got to shake at a game. “He may have all the money in the world, but he was nice enough to shake my hand and have a conversation with people,” Lake remembers.
One of the greatest challenges of being a mascot is navigating in-costume, Lake says. The tunnel vision the costumes create has caused Lake to accidentally step on children or run into people because he’s unable to see side-to-side or up-and-down. Additionally, the heat can be nearly unbearable on summer days, especially with all of the physical activity that comes with the job. Still, the pros far outweigh the cons, and even physical activity in a heavy costume under the blazing-hot sun has its benefits, he says. “I gained 5-10 pounds in the off-season and got out of shape. It’s nice to get back into the routine of the season so I can shed the pounds,” Lake confesses.