I remember that day in September of 1993 when my friend S---- and I went job hunting. It was the end of the busy summer activities and things were beginning to quiet down. We knew we needed to find a job during the winter and we had decided to drive up to Smuggler’s Notch and check out their job openings.
We were given a stack of papers that described each job and I sorted through them, tossing aside the ones that did not interest me. Feeling discouraged, I stood up and walked away, only to be called back by my friend.
“Read this,” she said handing me a paper. “This sounds like something you would enjoy doing.”
I took the paper and read the description of the job which went something like this: Costumed characters, Mogul Mouse and Billy Bob Bear; meet and greet children at the end of the ski day, attend the Welcome Party every Monday, and gets lots of hugs.
“Can you imagine me running around in a mouse costume?” I asked her.
She simply answered, “Yes I could.”
The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I filled out an application and on my way home I found that I had already earned the nickname of Mogul Mouse by my friend.
A few days later I got a call from the resort and I was told the job was mine if I wanted. Of course I said yes and a few days later I found out what it was like to become a 5’5” mouse, whose best friend was a bear.
Mogul Mouse, who's name had come straight from the skiing slopes on the mountain was a country mouse at heart, which was perfect for me. Billy Bob Bear was the other mascot of Smuggler’s Notch. He was Mogul’s friend and they worked close by each other every day. Together they had all sorts of adventures, such as pretend duels, dancing arm in arm, games of Hide n' Seek, and tag. Most of the children loved every minute of it, most of them believing,
or simply going along with the characters.
Mogul Mouse became a part of me that winter and I soon learned that even though the job appeared to be an easy one, Mogul's life was very hard. For example, Mogul had to endure the snippy remarks of lots of 'know-it-all' children. Whenever Mogul went outside to greet the skiiers, some snobby little kid always had to ask, "Are you real?" as he peered into the screened eyes of the poor, silent mouse. Because Mogul was not allowed to talk, there was no way to answer except nod and dance around, hoping to distract the inquiring child. This always seemed to lead to the next question which was, "Why do you have velcro on your back?" as the naughty child tugged on the closure and tried to yank the head off. Though there were other staff members working in the area, sometimes they were oblivious to the threats and abuse that poor Mogul suffered at the hands of the young skiers. Desperate for help, Mogul or Billy would run to the nearest worker and whisper, "Help me!"
Standing out in the cold no matter if it was 32 degrees or minus 10 degrees was part of the job requirements. Some days the visits with the children were short as we rushed inside to warm our numb toes and fingers. Also, getting hit on the head with ski poles was not something I had signed up for, at least it had not been in the contract. Then there was the time when we had a huge snowball fight and one kids decided to throw an ice ball at Billy Bob's face. He ended up going inside with a bloody nose and was out of commission for quite some time.
It was our job to maintain the appearance of the two mascots to the little ones who did believe. As soon as we arrived at the resort and retrieved the costumes, we had to stuff them in garbage bags and carry them across the long parking lot to the building where we put them on. Can you imagine what a child would say if he knew we were carrying Mogul Mouse and Billy Bod inside a plastic bag?
Some evenings, we went to the sledding hill and slid down on the tubes with the children. Billy Bob, whose head did not fasten on with velco like mine did, had to hold his head on so he would not lose it. The one time that it did go bouncing and rolling down the hill caused some commotion among the young children that saw it fall off, but once the head was restored all was well again.
Billy and Mogul had to attend the welcome parties where they got to dance the Hokey Pokey and do the Chicken Dance. Because this particular event took place inside, the heavy fur costume made the sweat pour down inside, soaking the clothing underneath. It was always a relief to get back outside and feel the cool air again.
Yes, it was an adventure that I will never forget. Even amid the tough times of the job, we had a lot of fun times. My favorite memory was the time I decided to go skiing while dressed in the costume. I did not realize how hard it would be to see with the large, round head with only two small eyeholes to look out. I put my skis on and got into the line at the lifts. It was fun to watch the reaction of the people around me and the children were delighted to see me on skis. I sat next to a little girl on my way up to the mid point of the hill and got off, barely making it down the ramp without falling. I realized that since I had made this decision to ski in the resort's mascots costume, I had to make a good attempt and really try hard not to fall down.
I began skiing slowly, making my way across the slope so I would not make a fool of myself. People waved as they rode over my head on the lift and I often stopped and patted the little one's heads as they stood in line for their lessons. I made it down in one piece and got right back on the ski lift again, ready for another trip down the mountain.
The best part of the job though, was the fact that I found I could act any way I wanted and nobody knew who I was. My shyness and self-consciousness disappeared. Even some people who I knew personally never knew I was the one in the costume as they gave me a hug. It was a wonderful experience and I will never forget the part Mogul Mouse played in my life.