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Take a look at California’s quirky mascots on National Mascot Day

The Los Angeles Galaxy mascot Cozmo waves a victory flag after an MLS soccer game against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Galaxy mascot Cozmo waves a victory flag after an MLS soccer game against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 29.
(Peter Joneleit/Associated Press)

June 17 is National Mascot Day. Yes, there’s a holiday for just about anything and everything.

Mascots make the game day experience full of energy and life. They’re welcoming to children and help build first memories with a favorite team. Their antics help build rivalries that weather the test of time.

The great state of California is home to several of the quirkiest, most whimsical mascots in the world of sports.

Cozmo

The Galaxy’s mascot, Cozmo, has been cheering on the team since 2003. The club has a fun back story about how the creature crash landed on Earth and wanted to try out for the team — he’s a U.F.O. or a Universal Futbol Olympian — but couldn’t play because he’s not human. He’s a black bug-like thing with yellow tufts of fur. Cozmo has rallied the Galaxy to four MLS Cups, participates in community events and is a treasured part of the team’s culture.

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The Tree

The Stanford Tree is actually not the university’s official mascot. The friendly fellow is the official mascot of the band (yes, the one that was on the field!) and has been widely adopted by fans of the Cardinal as their frontman. The school has been debating on what figure should represent them since removing their Indian mascot in the 1970s and hasn’t found something to which it can commit. But what’s more reliable than a nice, sturdy tree?

Boltman

Making a mascot out of a bolt of lightning might be a hefty task for the Chargers, so superfan Dan Jauregui came to the rescue and made himself the unofficial mascot, Boltman. The San Diegan hung up the cape when the Chargers moved to Los Angeles after 22 years of service. Since relocating to the City of Angels, the Chargers have struggled to create a home-field advantage. Maybe a mascot would help change that?

For two decades, Dan Jauregui has boasted he is the No. 1 fan of the Chargers. He’s pushing for the team to stay in San Diego, but if they leave, he won’t follow them out of town.

Sammy the Slug

Of the many University of California schools, UC Santa Cruz takes the cake for quirkiest mascot. The Banana Slug isn’t exactly the mightiest of beasts, and that’s why the school proudly adopted it. When the school first joined the NCAA for Division III athletics in 1980, administrators actually chose the Sea Lions as the team name. But students protested because of their loyalty to the Banana Slug, which had been used unofficially for the school’s intramural sports and other activities as a symbol that everyone could participate. Sammy the Slug and his cyber-yellow tentacles have become somewhat of an icon and have been included on several lists of best mascots.

The San Diego Chicken

What started as a character for radio promotion turned into one of San Diego’s favorite celebrities. The San Diego Chicken was a mainstay at Padres games since his grand hatching in 1979. His immense popularity and demanding schedule made it harder to build a consistent presence at Petco Park, which made for a big celebration when he appeared in front of a sellout crowd at a Padres-Giants game in 2019. Ted Giannoulas, the man inside the suit, loves to get kids involved in his routine and has a handful of lucky young fans dress up in their own chicken suits so that they can experience the magic.

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Dodgers’ Non-Mascot

The Dodgers haven’t had an official mascot in their 60-plus years in Los Angeles. They’ve tossed around the idea and the closest they’ve gotten is 2014’s creepy bobblehead boy. The Dodgers insisted it’s not a mascot in the first place. “It’s a unique performance character,” Dodgers executive vice president of marketing Lon Rosen said at the time. Sure.


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