Klondike Revealed 2016
Four graduating seniors can finally share the best-kept secret on campus. Just who is it under that mask?
Being the Ohio Northern University mascot Klondike is such a closely guarded secret that not even the portrayer's closest friends know the truth. There are no tryouts to become Klondike. Only those noticed by current Klondikes are recruited for the job. A student is only allowed to reveal themselves upon graduating. So with Commencement right around the corner, we thought we'd help these four seniors take off the head.
Three years ago, Nicole Berry, a senior biology major from Brunswick, Ohio, received a curious email from an email address both immediately familiar and equally unbelievable: Klondike@onu.edu.
In the message, Klondike said he had noticed her on campus and wanted to meet. Nicole was sure it was a fake message, some elaborate prank by one of her friends. She took a screenshot of her phone and texted it to her family in a group message. Little did she know, the originator of the email really was Klondike, and by sending the text to her family, Nicole actually replied.
It was my older sister! She was Klondike, and the email was her way of welcoming me into this wonderful secret society.
Nicole is one of four seniors who are taking off the mask and publicly revealing who they are, something that is absolutely forbidden for them to do while they are active Klondikes. For Nicole, the mystery is the best part. People are always asking her, “Who is that in there?” And even though she says it’s the biggest challenge to the job, even more so than learning how to walk up and down stairs in the suit, she’s resisted talking to anyone while in costume.
Through Klondike, Nicole has had the opportunity to see ONU in a whole new way. She was involved with numerous football games, youth volleyball and softball competitions, and the Homecoming parade, and she even got to rock out onstage with We the Kings at Welcome Fest. She loved posing for pictures with her fellow students and admits that she always smiled, even though no one could see. As she prepares for her future and graduate school at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, Nicole is glad she won’t be too far away.
“I cannot wait to come back to campus next year and steal a picture with the new Klondike so I can finally wonder, ‘Who is that in there?’”
For the past three years, Chelsea Brown, a senior political science major from Jewett, Ohio, has had, by her own account, “the most fun, and experienced the greatest moments, possible on campus.”
It’s all in the part of the job description when you are Klondike, the ONU mascot. Chelsea is one of four seniors who are taking off the mask and publicly revealing who they are, something that is absolutely forbidden for them to do while they are active Klondikes.
Events like Welcome Fest, getting to see so many of your friends, and meeting so many new people, is fun enough, but having that air of mystery as to who you are under the mask is the coolest thing.
Homecoming was always a special time for Chelsea because she got to interact with so many ONU alumni. Nothing gave her greater joy than being around the different alumni classes as they gathered to take pictures with each other and with Klondike. She could hear them talk about their love and gratitude for Northern, and feel how deep their pride ran.
But more than anything, being in the suit let her have fun and let loose. She’d get to go on the field at football games and high-five the coaches. She’d dance with the pep band and hug Dr. Bates at basketball games. She even got cookies from President DiBiasio and First Lady Chris Burns-DiBiasio.
“Being Klondike has allowed me to not only show my pride as a student, but also be a representation of love and pride for the university I call home,” she says.
Emily Kleine’s first steps as Klondike were through an underground parking garage, up a crowded escalator, across a busy street and up a set of stairs into the Statehouse in Columbus.
These are four things someone in a giant bear costume should never have to do," she says. "Despite tripping over my feet countless times and sweating gallons, I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.
The advertising design student from Bowling Green, Ohio, is one of four seniors who are taking off the mask and publicly revealing who they are, something that is absolutely forbidden for them to do while they are active Klondikes.
According to Emily, the best part about being Klondike is getting to be as ridiculous as you want. “No one cares because you’re a polar bear!” She looked forward to wearing the suit no matter the event. From football games to creeping around the library, each event offered a unique experience.
She will miss the different reactions people have when they see Klondike. Some people would shout “Yo, Klondike,” and others would give Klondike a hug. But no matter what, everyone was always happy to see the bear. Everyone that is, except...
“Dogs. They hate the bear,” she says.
The experience of being Klondike will stick with Emily through the rest of her life. It taught her to be confident and how to let loose and have fun. When she comes back to visit campus and sees Klondike for the first time, she’s going to do two things: wonder who is in the suit, and hope that he or she is having the same unforgettable experience she had.
Even though Cody Meyer has only been Klondike for a little more than a year, the stories he’s collected and the memories he’s made will last a lifetime.
“Being Klondike has meant the world to me,” says the mechanical engineering major.
Cody is one of four seniors who are taking off the mask and publicly revealing who they are, something that is absolutely forbidden for them to do while they are active Klondikes. He’ll never forget donning the suit for freshman orientation. He couldn’t believe how many of the new students were scared to come take a picture with him. He’ll miss the sense of freedom he felt wearing the suit. He truly became Klondike, the Klondike with ridiculous dance moves and a knack for getting his fellow students to laugh and forget about the stresses of college for a little while.
More than anything, when I put on the suit, I felt the overwhelming amount of pride,” says Cody. “ONU has been my home for four years, and having the opportunity to be the mascot, the literal face of the University, was an incredible experience. I got to be a part of something that will live on long after I am gone.
Of course there are some things he won’t miss. Even for a Polar Bear from Boynton Beach, Fla., the fur suit can get pretty hot. But for Cody, dealing with the heat wasn’t the hardest part of the job.
Taking the suit off was.