He was nappy, war-torn and had a lopsided head, but many agree Fuego Elmo, the Santa Fe Fuego’s makeshift mascot, was the true star of the local Pecos League team’s maiden season.
With the stamina of the Phillie Phanatic and the gumption of a regular San Diego Chicken, 14-year-old Dominique Romero portrayed Elmo for some 36 home games. Now, a year older and wiser, the Santa Fe High varsity cheerleader is back, breathing life into McGee—a fully revamped mascot that, according to “team mom” Yvonne Encinias, was born out of SFR’s coverage [Big Picture, July 25, 2012: “St. Elmo’s Fuego”].
“A lot of people didn’t know about the team, and that whole article was focused on just Elmo. You think about Orbit, who has his own followers,” Encinias says. “People just go to see Orbit.”
Longing to mimic the Isotopes’ crowd fave, Encinias helmed a committee to seek out not just the perfect mascot, but also a local business to finance its construction. Her prayers were answered by the mascot’s namesake, McGee Memorial Chapel Mortuary & Crematory.
A few ideas were tossed around, Encinias confesses, including a Dalmatian. “Then somebody came around and said, ‘How about a fire-breathing dragon? Flames? Fire?’ and we went from there.”
Lo, McGee the Dragon was born.
SFR was there exclusively for McGee’s first photo shoot. Romero’s proud parents, Jerome and Theresa, were also present.
“I love it. It brings out a whole different side of her,” says Theresa, a self-proclaimed “cheer mom” and “mascot mom.” “Without the costume, she’s pretty shy, but in the costume, she’s a whole other person.”
Jerome agrees. “When she’s inside the costume, she can be herself, and she can be a kid,” he says, instructing his daughter to strike a Bo Jackson-inspired pose.
A solid hour into it, Dominique takes a break.
“He’s gonna be very exciting, very ecstatic and hyper,” she says of the mascot, which will make its first public appearance at a Fuego rally on the Plaza this Saturday at noon. “Hopefully, I can do my back handsprings and flips now that I can move without my head falling off.”
Old Elmo is “in a trunk somewhere,” Encinias says—but he may still appear for the occasional cameo.
“He might rise up again from the ashes and come into Taos, or maybe the Vegas Train Robbers,” she advances.
McGee, no doubt, will scorch the competition.