Rely on Occupational Safety & Health ReporterSM for full news coverage and documentation of federal and state workplace safety and health programs, standards, legislation,...
By Sam Pearson
It only took 26 seconds for the Philadelphia Flyers’ new mascot, Gritty, to create his latest viral moment—descending from the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center to the tune of the Miley Cyrus hit “Wrecking Ball.”
But it took a lot of behind-the-scenes planning to make sure the stunt went off safely before the Oct. 9 game against the San Jose Sharks, according to the consultant who produced the stunt.
Set-up only took about one day, but it required calculations to align Gritty’s path with the geometry of the arena where the Flyers play, according to Brett Rhinehart, the owner of Aerial Concepts Inc. in Charlotte, N.C. Plans must consider how far above the ice the performer will be, the spacing of structural high beams, and obstructions like speakers and banners, Rhinehart said.
“We spent a great deal of time identifying a safe flight path,” Rhinehart said.
The Flyers—who haven’t had a mascot since 1976—announced Gritty as the team’s new costumed character Sept. 24. The orange-haired mascot drew ridicule, with comedian John Oliver calling the googly-eyed creature “hostile, consistently unsettling, [and] temperamentally unpleasant,” but has been embraced by the Internet.
A spokeswoman for the Flyers didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Environment’s request for comment, but Rhinehart said Gritty’s flight at the home opener may not be the last for the furry creature this season.
Stunts like Gritty’s are less common than in the past, Erin Blank, owner of Keystone Mascots LLC, a mascot-training school in Lancaster, Pa., told Bloomberg Environment.
Several high-profile mascot mishaps have led to serious injury or simply embarrassment for a performer. Some leagues like the NBA have, as a result, limited the kind of stunts teams can perform, Blank said, and teams sometimes want to avoid the spectacle.
Failing to execute a stunt of this nature safely can lead to liability costs and fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In 2013, Dan Meers, who performed as the Kansas City Chiefs’ mascot, KC Wolf, sustained spinal and pelvic injuries requiring surgery after slamming into Arrowhead Stadium’s upper deck while practicing a zip-line routine. Records show OSHA opened an inspection of the Chiefs but didn’t issue a citation for the incident.
The San Jose Sharks—the Flyers’ opponent Oct. 9—had their own mascot disaster in 1999 when a malfunctioning rappel line left a performer dressed as S.J. Sharkie stuck dangling above the ice after a failed bungee jump before the game. Workers had to pull the mascot by hand back to the overhead walkways.
Rhinehart performed similar pendulum swings while working as Gnash, the mascot of the Nashville Predators, during their inaugural season in 1998.
“It’s great,” Rhinehart said. “You’ve got 15-, 20,000 people all screaming and cheering at the same time. It’s phenomenal. Ask any mascot.”
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)