Bear’s Mascot Bowl raises funds for local charities

by Aaron Falk

LEHI — Dancing atop a 20-foot ladder? Leaping through a ring of fire? A head-first sled ride down the arena stairs? Jazz Bear and his mascot buddies can handle that, no problem.

An eighth-grade football team, though, is a different story.

Bear and an all-star team of local and NBA mascots suffered a 30-26 defeat against a squad of Skyridge and Lehi football players on Monday night. But Bear still notched a major win at the 15th annual Mascot Bowl by raising money for the “Bear Hugs for Kids” and “Firemen and Friends for Kids” charities—funds that will be used take underprivileged children Christmas shopping this year.

“Bear’s awesome and this is a great cause,” said former Seattle Seahawks fullback Will Tukuafu, one of the local celebrities who played in the game. “It’s the biggest thing to be able to come back and support the community like this. You see yourself in these little kids’ position and you want to help.”

The evening at Skyridge High School started with autographs and pictures with mascots from around the country. “Utah is such a fantastic place with great people. Jazz Bear gets all of his friends together and this night is a blast,” gold-medal speed skater Derek Parra said. “I’ve lived in a lot of different states, but I’ve never experienced the kind of community outreach we have here. It’s just a fun event and I’m glad Bear invites me every year.”

Then, after arriving by helicopter, Utah Jazz players Royce O’Neale, Georges Niang and Naz Mitrou-Long presented Bear with the game ball.

“My money is on the mascots,” Niang predicted.

This year’s roster included: Bear and Lil’ Bear (Utah Jazz), Moondog (Cleveland Cavaliers), Rocky (Denver Nuggets), Rumble (Oklahoma City Thunder), Chuck (Los Angeles Clippers), Coyote (San Antonio Spurs), Benny (Chicago Bulls), Leo (Real Salt Lake), Bumble (Salt Lake Bees), Grizzbee (Utah Grizzlies), Felix (Utah Falconz), Rocky (Rocky Mountain Raceway), Swoop (University of Utah), Cosmo (BYU), Willy (Utah Valley University), Big Blue (Utah State University), Waldo (Weber State University) and Thor (Southern Utah University).

Former University of Utah and Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata quarterbacked the mascot team but couldn’t pull out the victory.

“This is a great event,” he said. “But I see a lot of basketball mascots. I don’t know how good they are at football.”

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