Any good mascot knows you never reveal your identity.
But 25 years after he last stepped out of a large plush orca suit, likely covered in sweat from the heat, Saanich Councillor Colin Plant is letting everyone in on a little secret.
Plant was Klee Wyck.
Yes, that Klee Wyck. The human-sized killer whale that looked like a massive stuffed animal. In the summer of 1994, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Commonwealth Games press conference that didn’t include the whale.
On Monday, the 25th anniversary of the start of the Commonwealth Games competition, Plant tweeted out a photo of the mascot saying “25 years ago this is what I was doing!”
25 years ago this is what I was doing!
Oddly enough same artwork/portraits in @Saanich Chamber. #XVcommonwealthgames #mascotlife #yyjsports #yyj #Saanich pic.twitter.com/nsskBKlDeL
— Colin Plant (@ColinPlant2018) August 20, 2019
A day later, CHEK News asked the councillor to elaborate.
In the lead up to the games, Plant says he was a theatre student at the University of Victoria looking for work. He says he saw a job posting on the wall of UVic’s Phonix Theatre looking for people to be the mascot.
He applied, and without having to tryout, says he was chosen to be part of a group of people who would eventually wear the Klee Wyck costume.
But before he could put on the suit, he had to train.
“We were brought into a meeting room and there was an expert from the United States who taught us how to be Klee Wyck,” he says.
Plant says he was one of about 25 people who played Klee Wyck. The orca was supposed to be at every Commonwealth Games event so there needed to be multiple people, in multiple whale suits.
The job did come with a few perks, including access to her majesty.
“The best experience I had was being in the costume and the queen and her husband were in a car going around Uvic’s Ring Road,” Plant remembers.
He says their window was rolled down and when the royal couple got close they waived.
“I waived back with my flipper,” he says.
Although the heavy-partly cotton mascot suit was as warm as it looks in photos, Plant says the job was an opportunity to be part of island history.
“Twenty-five-years ago this region was in the spotlight of the world, there was an energy in the community that I don’t think we’ve seen since.”
In addition to being a Saanich Councillor, Colin Plant also teaches drama at Claremont Secondary.