VERO BEACH — David Raymond, a self-proclaimed Emperor of Fun and Games, says he hopes to make Vero Beach Sports Village the place where mascots of all shapes and sizes will come to learn their craft.
Raymond, who gained fame as the horned-nose neon green mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies known as the Philly Phanatic, has been conducting a mascot boot camp for 18 years. He says the old Dodgertown facility is the perfect place to teach campers the ins and outs of creating a memorable mascot that if marketed successfully can earn top tier performers a six-figure salary.
Raymond notes that the mascot school is in line with the umpiring school that the Sports Village hosts and has high hopes for a long-term relationship in Vero Beach with Minor League Baseball which operates the facility.
“What I would like is for Dave Raymond Entertainment to make Vero Beach Sports Village the permanent home for my mascot camps,” he said. “Just like this is the place that umpires come to learn their craft, this is where mascots will learn theirs.”
The camp is scheduled for next Feb. 25-27 and will cover such topics as crowd interaction, character training and developing a compelling story and back story about your mascot creation.
The decision to come to Dodgertown grew out of Raymond’s long-standing relationship with minor league baseball and working with a myriad of its affiliates’ mascots. He will be offering a deal for minor-league mascots, but the camp is open to colleges or anyone wanting to break into the mascot game.
Among the campers to come through is program are Swoop of the Philadelphia Eagles, Clutch of the Houston Rockets, Raymond of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Hip Hop of the PHiladelphia 76ers, Burnie of the Miami Heat and Stormy of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.
While mascot headliners can make a lot of money travelling the country putting on shows, Raymond stresses his camp can also open doors for those seeking other jobs in the sporting industry.
“It can create a way a way for those trying to break into the field and teach them valuable marketing skills,” he said.
Raymond is expecting about 20 attendees, but says the Dodgertown operation will allow him to host up to 40 campers.
“Vero Beach Sports Village is a great facility,” he said. “It will really be like a camp where the mascots can have everything they need right there, the facilities, the classrooms, the hotel rooms, the food, the recreation. It gives us a chance to do everything all in one spot.”
The irony of the former Philly Phanatic running a mascot camp at Dodgertown is not lost on Raymond. He gained fame when during a nationally televised game between the Phillies and Dodgers he mocked Manager Tommy Lasorda, who tried to steal an oversized caricature of the Los Angeles manager the Phanatic was parading around the field.
“They took me to his old office and ‘allowed’ me stay in his residence, which no one could do when he was manager,” Raymond said of a visit to Dodgertown. “I just love the way the facility is opening itself to new things, but is still caught up in the Dodger era.”
Raymond has been at the mascot “game” for 32 years and has the perfect perspective on what it means to represent a team in and out of character as a creative creation.
“We teach fun, but it is serious fun,” he said.
For more information about mascot camp visit the David Raymond Entertainment Group at www.raymondeg.com.