Big Redd finds a new home in Kitsap County

Some breeds of salmon are known for traveling far distances—over 900 miles— but not one salmon has traveled as far as Kitsap County’s newest mascot, Big Redd.

Some breeds of salmon are known for traveling far distances—over 900 miles— but not one salmon has traveled as far as Kitsap County’s newest mascot, Big Redd.

The mascot, a six-foot-tall man-made costume, is the vision of Clear Creek Elementary students and was created by a character design company in the Netherlands.

“It feels so cool that we can tell people we made it up,” said Clear Creek student Danella Romera, 9.

Romera is one of the students in teacher Barbara Bromley’s fourth grade class who took part in the process of getting Big Redd to America.

The mascot arrived just weeks before school got out, much to the delight of Bromley who got the ball rolling on getting the mascot designed.

Big Redd made his debut at the West Sound Green Summit where more than 200 students from across the county had a chance to meet the mascot. At the county’s earlier Kitsap Water Festival, Bromley’s students recruited other students to vote on a name for the mascot.

Big Redd, named by student Jayden Arends, took home the vote for best name over Gill and Scarlett.

To welcome the new mascot, Bromley’s students waved signs and cheered on Big Redd as he gave hugs and high fives to students at the summit. Bromley’s students were happy for themselves and others to finally see the mascot finished before summer started.

“I felt kind of happy inside because of how happy other kids were,” said student Adryaunna Young. “It took a long time to make.”

It is the hope of Bromley that others in the county will use it as a way to promote awareness about salmon preservation and protection of habitat. Earlier this year, her class released salmon fry into Clear Creek after studying the eggs in the classroom tank.

As for the fish mascot, he is for anyone who wishes to use it, no fee attached, Bromley said. Supporters of the mascot include S’Kallam Tribe, Port of Silverdale, Clear Creek PTA and Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, all of which Bromley expects will use Big Redd to promote salmon awareness. Michelle Myers with the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, said her organization was thrilled to be a sponsor for the project.

“We are excited to be part of this project because it was thought of and designed by students,” said Myers, who is the Habitat Projects Specialist and Education Coordinator. “From our knowledge, this is the first salmon mascot, at least in the Hood Canal/Kitsap Peninsula area, and we see a great future for it as it can be shared by many organizations and utilized in outreach events throughout the area to raise awareness of salmon and their importance to maintain a health eco-system.”

Bromley’s fourth graders studied salmon and its habitat for much of the school year decided they wanted to be a part of a bigger project for the community. The class talked about a homemade mascot suit, but discovered that cloth wouldn’t hold up in the weather for outdoor events.

That’s when Bromley got on the phone with Promo Bears, the Netherlands company that specializes in designing mascot costumes.

After seeing the initial design for salmon the company sketched, the students requested a few changes, Bromley said.

The teeth were “too sharp” and the costume looked too skinny to her students. She sent suggestions back to the company, and then the students approved the new look that Big Redd has now.

“Fat things are cute,” explained student Bethany Vickers, 10, of the finished mascot’s fluffier, friendlier look.

“They were willing to give me a high quality mascot for half the price,” said Bromley. Bromley paid for half of the cost of the mascot out of pocket and solicited donations for the mascot suit that cost just over $2,000. Bromley’s students also brought in pennies to help with the cost of creating the mascot.

“I know he’ll make an appearance everywhere,” said Bromley, adding that he is expected to show up at Whaling Days this year.

Bromley got the idea for a salmon mascot from other counties with a similar mascot. When she told her students about it, she knew that it couldn’t be let go.

“They got jazzed about bringing a salmon mascot to the county,” she said.

Anyone interested in borrowing Big Redd for an event may contact Pat Kirschbaum, Education and Outreach Coordinator at Kitsap County Surface and Stormwater Management Program, at 360-307-4278.