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. Despite tripping over my feet countless times and sweating gallons, I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world,” she says.
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.