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    By Thomas Elmallakh
    ​Photo by Chris Witzke

    In 2012, former Papa John’s marketer Karl La Greca had a promotional idea unrelated to pizza: the Louisville League of Mascots. If there’s another group like it in America, La Greca hasn’t heard of it. “The way I presented it to (the mascots) was, ‘You already get invitations to go to some charity events. If we make it easier for them to find us, you’ll get more invitations. We’ll put the information together and you’ll know where to park. You’ll know where to change (clothes),’” he says.

    The group, which does about 100 events a year, now has 75 members, including Louie the Cardinal Bird, the Frisch’s Big Boy and a personal check with hands and feet called Mr. Big Check (for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service). A googly-eyed Thorntons cup is named Phil Up (get it?). For what La Greca describes as a knighting ceremony, new mascot members take a knee. The 65-year-old wears a musketeer outfit and everything, uses a rapier to tap their shoulders. “The code is that we always are very professional and honor the image of the mascot,” he says. “We don’t change or talk in front of people.

    “When you see mascots, you think of kids,” La Greca says. “But adults can be kids too.” He pauses. “You’d be surprised at how many parents want to take pictures with the mascots.” 

    This originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazine, click here. To find your very own copy of Louisville Magazine, click here. 

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