Baton Rouge is celebrating 200 years of incorporation this year. And when local officials announced the celebration in November, they enthusiastically introduced an even more enthusiastic new mascot for the occasion: an unnamed, blue-eyed, smiling, dancing red stick.
Yet despite all that enthusiasm, the giant, affable red stick was conspicuously absent during Tuesday’s bicentennial celebration in downtown Baton Rouge.
There were beads, buttons, and birthday cake for the occasion, according to The Advocate. However, the mascot that had been seen boogying around Town Square, holding a bicentennial sign, and posing for photos with passersby on November 3 was nowhere to be found this week.
Making the mascot’s absence even more conspicuous was Assistant Library Director Mary Stein referencing “a dancing red stick,” which she indicated would occasionally make appearances.
Why does every photo of the mascot in existence show it holding a bicentennial sign? Seriously, if it has nothing to do with the celebration, where are the pictures of the mascot sans bicentennial sign?
No such “dancing red stick” made an appearance — much less danced — at Tuesday’s celebration.
Did Stein not get some sort of memo that the mascot wouldn’t make it to the event? Did the mascot call in sick? Or is there something clandestine going on?
Deepening the mystery regarding the mascot’s whereabouts are Visit Baton Rouge President and CEO Paul Arrigo’s comments to The Advocate on Tuesday after being pressed about the matter:
Arrigo insisted after Tuesday’s news conference that the red stick mascot was never meant for the bicentennial, despite his own agency’s Twitter account posting on November 3 “Baton Rouge is celebrating our bicentennial in 2017! Meet our Red Stick! Naming contest coming soon.”
Instead, Arrigo said Tuesday that the mascot is only meant for when Baton Rouge hosts the U.S. Bowling Congress’ women’s championships from April through July of 2017.
“We didn’t want to use it for other events and get it worn,” Arrigo said on Tuesday.
Arrigo’s “explanation” raises so many more questions and suspicions.
If it was never meant for the bicentennial, why was Stein under the impression the mascot would participate in the bicentennial event this week? Why reveal and publicize it when announcing the bicentennial celebration? Why does the only video record of the mascot released by Visit Baton Rouge show it dancing while holding a bicentennial sign? Why does every photo of the mascot in existence show it holding a bicentennial sign? Seriously, if it has nothing to do with the celebration, where are the pictures of the mascot sans bicentennial sign?
Does Visit Baton Rouge still plan on holding a naming contest? If so, when? Did Visit Baton Rouge not tweet “Naming contest coming soon” on November 3? What exactly is Arrigo’s idea of “soon”?
How fragile is the mascot that Arrigo would be concerned it would get “worn” during only its second time out in public? From what type of material is it constructed? Did Visit Baton Rouge not purchase the extended warranty?
Is Paul Arrigo behind the disappearance? Is he ashamed of the anthropomorphic used tampon chosen to represent the city he’s in charge of promoting?
Will we actually see the mascot later this year during the bowling tournament? Is Arrigo hoping we will all forget about the mascot by that point and not pursue the matter any further? If so, why? What did Arrigo do to the red stick mascot?
What is really going on? Is Arrigo behind the disappearance of the mascot, ostensibly designed to resemble the blood-covered red stick — erected by Native Americans and discovered by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville — from which Baton Rouge derives its name? Is he ashamed of the large, anthropomorphic used tampon chosen to represent the city he’s in charge of promoting?
All these questions surrounding a taxpayer-funded mascot that’s only been seen once since it was revealed nearly three months ago demand answers. There must be some accountability, which is why we decided to investigate what really happened to the red stick mascot.
Given Arrigo’s responses to The Advocate, we knew questioning him would prove fruitless, so we set out to find the mascot on our own. But where should we start? If Arrigo and his henchmen were hiding the mascot, where would they do so? Where would an enormous used tampon blend in?
With that in mind, our investigative team began looking around the feminine product disposal containers in dozens of women’s restrooms around town. While some might consider our findings “disturbing,” we did not come across the red stick mascot.
After a brief brainstorming session to determine other possible hiding places for a huge crimson tampon, we set out to find the biggest pussy in South Louisiana. However, it turned out New Orleans area state Rep. Neil Abramson was not hiding the mascot.
Our speculations then shifted toward those of a more nefarious nature.
What if the mascot isn’t just in hiding? What if Arrigo didn’t just put the sanguine tampon “under wraps” but had it “taken out”? For good. If he did eliminate the mascot, what kind of strings did he pull to do it?
Did he see the mascot as a career impediment that had to be permanently removed, and simply had it disposed of in the middle of the night? Has Arrigo become Baton Rouge’s Hillary Clinton, and the red stick mascot his Vince Foster? Did he take a page out of Vladimir Putin’s playbook and feed it a polonium-laced boudin ball?
What if Arrigo didn’t just put the sanguine tampon “under wraps” but had it “taken out”? For good. If he did eliminate the mascot, what kind of strings did he pull to do it?
Then again, perhaps the mascot could have just “accidentally fallen” into the Mississippi River. It could’ve simply slipped while practicing its dance moves, sashaying on the pier downtown in the dark of night and slipping into the muddy currents of Old Man River. Nevertheless, it’s likely someone would’ve reported before now spotting a 7-foot-plus-tall, blue-eyed, smiling tampon floating toward New Orleans.
It seems worth noting the timing of the mascot’s disappearance. Since the first and only time anyone saw the cheerful crimson tampon, Sharon Weston Broome became the first female to be elected mayor of Baton Rouge.
This raises other questions.
What if it wasn’t Arrigo who wanted to expunge the mascot? What if he was simply following the orders of Baton Rouge’s new chief executive? What if she found the mascot to be not only stupid but downright insulting? What if she didn’t want to conflate reminding people about the bicentennial with reminding people about that time of the month?
Did Mayor-President Broome have the mascot flushed? Did she order the code red? Or has Arrigo gone rogue?
By the way, “rogue” is how most people misspell “rouge.” Coincidence? We doubt it.
We will continue to investigate the mystery regarding the whereabouts of the red stick mascot and report more details as they unfold. Stay tuned.