The Gorlok costume’s head looked out from underneath Justin Barton’s desk in the University Center. The costume is a newly created version of the Gorlok. It will also be the new mascot present at Webster University events and athletic games.
Barton, retention initiatives program coordinator, took over supervising the mascot costume this year.
“The condition of the mascot started to dwindle down over the past few years,” Barton said. “That happens after wear and tear.”
The whiskers on the old costume were falling off and the ventilation system no longer worked.
Barton said the visibility in the previous costume was poor. The performer could only see straight ahead. Barton said the visibility in the new costume is improved.
The new costume also has an interlocking head system, which locks the costume’s head to the performer so it doesn’t fall off.
The new Gorlok costume’s ventilation system and lighter material will keep the performer cooler while wearing the costume. Barton said the performer will now wear a cooling vest under the costume to help keep him or her cool longer.
Webster purchased four costumes, which cost $3,800 each — a total of $15,200. Webster will keep two costumes at its Webster Groves campus. The other two will be stored and shipped to other U.S. campuses and international campuses upon request, said Patrick Giblin, director of public relations in the global marketing and communications department.
Sophomore Katie Ploesser said she first saw the new Gorlok costume in a picture on Webster University’s Facebook page.
“I really don’t like it,” Ploesser said. “When I saw the picture, I was kind of shocked at it because the mascot is so different. Webster’s colors are blue and a yellow-gold, not Cheeto orange.”
Barton said it was time for something new.
“I understand that some people are going to love the new mascot, and
some people are going to hate it,” Barton said. “I think they’ll (Webster students, faculty and staff) end up loving the soul of the mascot more than anything else when it’s all said and done.”
A Canadian company — 1-800-Mascots — made the costume, which is completely handmade. They sent photos of the costume’s development as it was being made. Webster provided feedback throughout the process.
Barton, Ted Hoef (associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students), members of enrollment management and student affairs, and global marketing and communications contributed feedback throughout the design process.
“We’ve made this Gorlok a lot more slim and muscular, something to go along with the wellness initiatives that are out there,” Barton said. “But at the same time, it has more of a friendly face because the other Gorlok (costume) sometimes could come across looking angry. And we wanted a Gorlok that was more whimsical.”
The first public event where the new costume can be viewed will be during Admitted Student Day on Friday, April 5. Barton said the new Gorlok will be at several other events during April, but won’t be visible every day.
“If the mascot was out every single day, it would lose its magic,” Barton said. “We want to make sure we keep the magic.”
Barton said Webster is creating standards and providing training for people who wear the costume. With training, Barton said people will get the same Gorlok whether they are at the Webster Groves campus or an extended campus.
“Bringing in a mascot is important to school spirit,” Barton said. “A lot of thought went into the creation of the new mascot because we want people to have that connection to the mascot.”
Giblin said the new Gorlok costume is in its fifth edition. Students and faculty at the Webster Groves campus designed and created the original Gorlok costume. The first Gorlok costume debuted in February 1988 at a basketball game.
After a few years of using the original costume, Webster hired a professional company to make a second costume. That costume had similar features to the original, but was completely blue. The third costume looked more like a buffalo. Webster replaced it with the recently retired fourth costume.
The Gorlok is a made-up creature that has the paws of a cheetah, horns of a buffalo and the face of a St. Bernard dog. Webster students and staff designed the mascot through a contest. A campus committee selected the name — which comes from Gore and Lockwood avenues near Webster — in 1984.