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Googly eyes, Sasquatch suits and a runaway booger: Welcome to the Mascot Hall of Fame

Related Topics: Mascot Hall of Fame, Whiting, Chicago

DAVID RAYMOND'S PILGRIMAGE to the happiest pantheon in sports always begins rather drearily.

After a flight from Philadelphia to Chicago's Midway Airport, he takes a 40-minute drive in a rental car southeast, down the construction-plagued Skyway toll road, across a bridge that spans one of the nation's most polluted waterways (the Calumet River), through the sulfurous fetor of the industrial Illinois-Indiana borderland. The final stretch, a woebegone landscape of liquor stores, discount tobacco shacks and forsaken gravel lots, leads him, at long last, to Whiting, Indiana, a tiny village (pop. 4,997) along the shore of Lake Michigan.