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Mascot tryouts underway

South Hill man goes all out

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While most were still snug in their beds this morning, 20-year-old South Hill resident Payton Foutz was giving his all during today’s tryout for Tacoma Rainiers popular mascot Rhubarb the Reindeer.

Foutz seemed a bit nervous at first when he entered the conference room at the Rainiers Administration Offices in University Place. However, he quickly got over his jitters and pulled out a handful of Pez candy — his favorite sweet treat of all time — from the pocket of his windbreaker pants. “I never leave home without Pez,” he said tossing the miniaturized-packets of Pez to folks around the room, who included representatives from the Rainiers and Schlegel Sports and members of the local media.

The tryout began with the basic job interview Q&A consisting of questions like what’s your greatest accomplishment, what are you most passionate about, etc. 

Foutz, who proudly sported a Central hoodie and a baseball cap, answered the plethora of questions with ease. “I have lots of spirit and lots of spunk,” he said.

He has experience working with children at various summer camps in the area including Lots of Fun in Puyallup. However, he said he doesn’t like babies much with their constant need for diaper changes and such. 

He hasn’t had much experience as a mascot, besides wearing a bright pink gorilla suit at a local jamboree. Foutz wasn’t afraid to toot his own horn, however, going on about how he is an Eagle Scout, an avid skate and long boarder, and knows sign language, which the Rainiers officials seemed impressed with. 

He currently is unemployed after selling a magical snow product during the holiday season. For some reason after Christmas, he said, demand dropped for the stuff.

When asked what two adjectives he would use to describe himself, all he could come up with was “energetic” and “smiley.”

Once the Q&A portion concluded, the real fun began when Foutz put on the mascot costume and strutted his stuff in the reindeer suit. The first step was getting oriented with the costume itself. Foutz had to cover Rhubarb’s eyes and mouth, find his ears (which are NOT his antlers), pick his nose and adjust his Tacoma Rainiers ball cap.

Then he got into character acting different emotions as Rhubarb, which included happy, sad, confused, embarrassed, flirtatious and shy. Next, Foutz had to react to various scenarios the interviewees threw his way like how he would get the attention of a sexy girl or handle a drunken fan.

Foutz as Rhubarb then had to get on the runaway and show off his reindeer walking skills. Afterwards, he finally got a break and was relieved to take the mascot costume’s head off. “It’s so hot in there,” he exclaimed with sweat running down his face.

“It gets better the more you do it,” insisted Tony Canepa, creative director with Schlegel Sports, who is a former mascot himself.

While jugging down some bottled water, Foutz broke the deafening silence by telling a few jokes he got from a book he recently purchased titled “365 Days of Clean Jokes.” 

After the short break, it was time to show off his dance moves to some classic funk music. “I can keep a really good beat all the time,” he said. However, “I’m not a very good dancer.”

Nonetheless, he seemed to impress the Rainiers reps, especially with his big finale: the former high school high jumper leaped over Tony Canepa with ease.

“You have contagious energy,” Josie Wilkes told Foutz following the interview. Wilkes is the director of marketing and community development for the Rainiers. 

Foutz was thrilled with how the tryout went. “I made them laugh the whole time,” he said, noting he hopes to get the gig. “I like to have a job with crazy hours…being a mascot is my dream job.”

The AAA-affiliate of the Seattle Mariners has been hosting tryouts since Friday and have a few more scheduled this weekend. Rainiers officials expect to fill the position by the end of next week.

The former mascot Tony Villa relocated to Washington D.C. in pursuit of his acting/dancing career. Whoever gets the jobs will have a busy schedule with an estimated 170-plus appearances in a calendar year – roughly 72 home games and another 100 community appearances to schools and local events. “It definitely takes a lot to be Rhubarb,” Wilkes remarked. 

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