Best Flying Mascot

Benny the Bull

Critics' Picks

Most sports mascots are lame, especially in Chicago. Southpaw of the White Sox, Tommy Hawk of the Blackhawks, Staley of the Bears: all plushy pushovers. For a long time, the liveliest mascot in town was probably Ronnie Woo Woo of the Cubs. Benny the Bull, by contrast, always had a little sass, as when he got tossed out of a 1974 playoff game along with coach Dick Motta for arguing a call. Yet even Benny succumbed to cuddly plushyitis when redesigned for the Jordan era. In 2004, however, after his sidekick Da Bull was retired following a pot bust, Benny morphed into something resembling Da Bull's sleeker, more maneuverable suit, now inhabited by Barry Anderson, who formerly served as the University of Montana's Monte the Bear. Anderson has refined Benny's act and his attitude. And while some of his gags are pretty hoary—such as sidling down a row of seats and spilling popcorn on fans from two huge open bags—others have grown increasingly intricate and impressive. Benny now descends from the rafters to lead cheers or rises back up with a "Louder!" banner like some Cirque du Soleil trouper, and he's the star of "Benny and the Elevators," the team of trampoline-jumping slam-dunk aerialists. You ever try to fly 15 feet to jam a basketball through a hoop—in a bull suit?

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