On Saturday, March 5 Santander Arena was crawling with all sorts of animals and objects and the Reading Royals celebrated Slapshot’s birthday.

The special day was celebrated in the best way possible, with Mascot Mania. The event drew mascots from dozens of local professional teams, colleges and businesses, as well as the Fur Circus, a professional mascot entertainment group.

Attendees included Melvin from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Ferrous from the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Cylo from the Lancaster Barnstormers, Avalanche from Kutztown University, and many more.

While it seems odd, sending mascots away from their home field or arena is not unusual. Most notably, Major League Baseball teams send their mascots out on goodwill tours frequently, whether to gather more fans or to maintain the fans they already have.

While the night was a special celebration for Slapshot, the fans were the ones who got the real treat. Mascots roamed the stands throughout the game, taking photos with fans and providing endless entertainment.

From spilling popcorn, to rubbing heads, and leading cheers, the mascots emptied their bag of tricks to entertain the Royals’ fans.

And there were plenty of fans. The birthday celebration coincided with Scout Night, and a January snowstorm forced the Wall of Honor induction ceremony for Gordon Kaye to be rescheduled for this game. The three events led to a nearly sold-out arena.

Fur Circus added to the entertainment by roaming the stands with the other mascots, and giving two performances: a dance off between two young fans, and their own dance performance.

The impact of the mascots was apparent throughout the entire game. The arena was filled with the sounds of various cheers breaking out across the stands as individual mascots encouraged sections of fans. Children could be heard calling out for their favorite mascot, or darting after them in the concourse trying to grab a hug or a picture.

Even fans stuck waiting in-line for food were included in the fun, with various mascots passing by and offering high-fives as they journeyed from one portion of the arena to another.

The mascots set the perfect tone for the evening, and fans were cheering and dancing through the entire game.