The National Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting is moving along quickly as it prepares for a 2018 debut, and it got a huge boost on Wednesday when Centier Bank presented the museum with a $250,000 check.
The Mascot Hall of Fame, originally just a website, is opening a permanent physical location in Whiting this year, featuring exhibits starring legendary mascots such as Tommy Hawk, Benny the Bull, and the Phillie Phanatic. Spearheaded by Mayor Joe Stahura, the project aims to bring in families from around the Chicagoland area and even the country to experience the fun of the Hall and Whiting’s unique community. Centier, known as the Bank of Whiting back when the Schrage family founded it, recognized the draw of the museum and wanted to step in as partners.
“The Schrage family is one of the founding families of Whiting, so I’m all about legacy and the opportunity to preserve things for the future and to make things better,” said Mike Schrage, President and CEO of Centier Bank. “Mayor Joe is a great partner to work with in projects like this, he has a way to pull people together and get things done. There’s a huge populace that surrounds Whiting, but the city is very small, yet that doesn’t mean it can’t be a great attraction for people to visit.”
While many of the exhibits are still under construction, others like the kids’ playground are partially complete. Tommy Hawk paid a visit to the building to meet with Mayor Stahura and the Schrage family, but quickly found himself lost inside the maze of tubes and slides. He, along with the Hall of Fame’s own mascot, Reggy, are among the attractions the mayor hopes will get kids excited to visit the Hall.
“I think when it’s all said and done we’re going to have a 12-month-a-year tourist attraction in a little city like Whiting,” Stahura said. “Our goal is that we’re going to have a constant flow of traffic on our streets. We’re excited to have Centier, they’re our first partner and a local partner, which is absolutely fantasic. We think it’s going to be a great relationship and partnership.”
Stahura and the Schrage family joined Tommy Hawk and Reggy on the museum’s steps to take photos and present the mayor with a massive check. The feathered fan and furry creature also joined the party on a tour of the building. With the opening only a few months away, the team at the Hall of Fame are looking forward to finally letting the citizens of Whiting see the results of years of planning and effort.
“We’re really excited, and it’s neat to see all the exhibits trickling in here and there,” said Adam Moskalick, a coordinator for the Mascot Hall of Fame. “The hype is building, and before you know it, everything will be said and done! I’m really exciting for people to come in, check it out, and have a good time!”
Learn more about the Mascot Hall of Fame at mascothalloffame.com.