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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

‘Bully Claus’ sets up shop in downtown Starkville

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Ivy Rose Ball | The Reflector
Bully Claus

Around the world, the same jolly old man in a red suit passing out gifts on Christmas Eve is known by many different names: Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas and Santa Claus to name a few. This month in Starkville, however, he is known by another name: Bully Claus.

The Bully Claus event will be hosted by the Mississippi State University Dance Team and Spirit Squads at The Hub in downtown Starkville. Families will be able to take their photo with a Christmas-themed version of the MSU’s beloved mascot Bully. Photo opportunities will take place Nov. 7 through Nov. 9 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. or Nov. 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at a rate of $50 per session. 

This is the first year that the Bully Claus event has been hosted.

Tiffany Fettinger, MSU cheer coach and director of spirit and fan engagement, explained that the Bully Claus event was created to help to stir up some Christmas spirit and help the citizens of Starkville connect to the school’s iconic bulldog.

“We just wanted a way to connect with the community,” Fettinger said. “And kind of get Bully out there to raise spirits, get everybody a chance to see Bully besides sporting events.”

Fettinger mentioned that one of the first challenges in setting up the event was finding a location.

“We just had to find somewhere that would allow us to set up and keep it up for a while,” Fettinger said. “We couldn’t do it at certain places on campus because it’s used so much.”

The Spirit Squad searched for a suitable location in downtown Starkville.

Caitlin Rackley, the associate licensing director for the MSU Office of General Counsel, explained that due to the amount of holiday festivities that occur in Starkville through November and December, the best place to set up shop would be in an actual shop.

“There’s a lot of events going on downtown during the month,” Rackley said. “Open House, the Christmas parade, and all those kinds of things. And so, when a shop is open to the public, anyone can go into it.”

In addition to providing a location for kids to get photos with Bully, the added benefit of using a store for this event is the influx of business this provides 

Duski Hale, director of trademark licensing for the MSU Office of General Counsel, explained that the store will be selling college-sponsored merchandise for the families waiting in line to see Bully Claus. The proceeds from merchandise sales will go to MSU.

“The whole shop is hosted by the school,” Hale said. “And all of the university trademarks are in the shop. So, all of the items that are sold in retail with their royalties, and those royalties come back to the university.”

In addition to taking a picture with Bully Claus, Hale noted that the bottom floor of The Hub was transformed into a festive Wonderland to keep families busy and entertained as they wait their turn to meet Bully.

“They have the retail shop with things to buy,” Hale said. “And there will be a movie playing, and places for kids to color. They can also take pictures with the cheerleaders and dancers.”

Hale explained that she hoped the families who visit Bully Claus would be able to use their photos in a festive manner, as that is part of the reason for this event taking place in November.

“We’re hoping that people can use the photos that they get from our photographer as their Christmas card,” Hale said. “Or just have it up all holiday season long.”

Most importantly though, Fettinger with the Spirit Squad hope that kids will be able to enjoy an unforgettable experience from this event.

“We’re just hoping that kids get to interact with their mascot,” Fettinger said. “See Bully in a different light than just at sporting events, get excited for Christmas, and have fun.”

Walk-ins for the Bully Claus event are welcome through Nov. 9., though registration is encouraged online through Ryzer. All photos must be limited to groups of six or less people with three poses per group. Registration will remain open through Nov. 22.

About the Contributor
Michael Cassidy, Staff Writer
Michael Cassidy is a senior communication major. Michael is currently a staff writer for The Reflector.
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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
‘Bully Claus’ sets up shop in downtown Starkville