Nobody knows who they are, but everyone wants to take their picture. Two people at the seventh annual IUPUI Regatta were sneaking up behind people, and catching their full attention. Everyone saw, high-fived, hugged, and even flirted with them. Then some people become their victims.
Jawz and Jazzy the Jaguars are two of the three mascots at IUPUI. Jawz has been there every year, and it is Jazzy’s first year. These two scary and loveable jaguars are there to cheer on students, staff, and faculty as they race down the Indianapolis Canal in canoes. But who are the people underneath the mask, and what do they have to say about the Regatta?
Jawz is one of the star attractions and always keeps the fun going. But, to a lot of people, he is scary.
“Yes, it’s hot,” is the answer to the question that Jawz is asked the most. As he takes another selfie for the 18th time, he smiles, even though no one can see him. Jawz snuck while he crouched to catch his unsuspecting victims off guard.
“It is just a hard habit to get rid of,” he said during his break. “I catch myself doing it all the time and I just giggle at myself.”
His signature move is to stalk and be as stealthy as a jaguar. Sometimes he stood for minutes behind someone with his hands up, in his pouncing position. At 6-foot, 7-inches tall, with a big set of sharp white teeth, and bulky muscles, Jawz is an intimidating jaguar.
Jawz isn’t the only mascot there. Making her debut at the Regatta was Jazzy the Jaguar, the soft and cuddly one of the jaguar trio for IUPUI. “The normal body function of a jaguar is to pant when it is hot,” Jazzy says on her break, “and mine doesn’t work as well… all of the heat and moisture stays trapped [in the suit], and it can get uncomfortable at times.”
The temperature at the start of the Regatta was 58 degrees. By the middle of the day, the temperature had risen to 78 degrees with 98 percent humidity. But that didn’t stop Jazzy from dishing out the fun.
Throughout most of the event, there was live music that Jazzy was able to get down to. She loved taking pictures and seeing all the kids. “I like the cute one,” a young girl said, “Not like the big, scary one. The cute one is nice.” Jazzy loves giving hugs and posing for pictures.
So why are the Jaguars out in the heat for Regatta? According to Jawz, it is important to keep school spirit up and since the Regatta is an IUPUI event. “My first Regatta experience was full of high fives and hugs with kids, students, volunteers, professors, and even parents… My favorite part about being at the Regatta was seeing how many people in the community support IUPUI and its functions.” Jazzy said.
The intense heat wasn’t the only problem at Regatta. The event lasted from 11 o’clock a.m., all the way to 7 o’clock p.m., and both jaguars were there while only taking two short breaks.
“Exhaustion was a big problem,” Jawz commented. “We are out there in the heat dancing, jumping around, and cheering on the crowd, for hours at a time. And our movements have to be big.” Jawz even helped lift a capsized canoe out of the water and onto its side to dump the overflow of water out.
Some intoxicated fans even gave Jazzy and Jawz a tough time, some would try to peek inside or under the head to get a glimpse of who might be in there. A few intoxicated fans even tried to offer the mascots alcohol.
“I understand why they would try and do that, but it gets really annoying…” Jawz stated. “I have to grab their arm and walk away.” And Jazzy is not exempt from the torture. “I’m pretty much cute and cuddly all the time, but sometimes I have to be big and intimidating to get away from the creeps.” Jazzy says.
Although exhausted and hot, Jawz and Jazzy remain in character and as full of fun all the way to the bitter end. And though the awards ceremony only had the audience of the few teams that won and the media presence, the IUPUI jaguars still put on their best face to complete the event! “The issues I face there are never enough to break my spirit!” Jazzy exclaimed. Not everybody at the 7th Annual IUPUI Regatta can say that everyone will remember them, but Jazzy and Jawz can. And who are they under the head? Only a select few know, and you are probably not one of them.