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5-year-old's fear of Staley created quandary

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Being forced to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic created quite a conundrum for at least one Bears employee.

While Bears fans know and love the team's spirited mascot, Staley Da Bear, the five-year-old daughter of Staley's alter ego isn't quite as fond of the furry character.     

"She's been afraid of Staley since Day 1," Staley's handler lamented. "As close as Staley has ever gotten to her at training camp has been a picture from afar. Or if she was in her stroller, Staley would sneak up behind her so her mom could snap a quick picture. But as soon as she saw Staley, it was game over."

Knowing how five-year-old Margaret was traumatized by the Bears mascot, there was a hesitancy to tell her that she lived under the same roof as Staley. Two colleagues were consulted, and the individuals who perform as the Colts' "Blue" and the Chiefs' "KC Wolf" both encouraged full disclosure. 

"They put it in a good perspective," said Staley's handler. "They said, '[Margaret] is in a unique position where she gets to see the mascot firsthand and she gets a behind-the-scenes look that no other kid gets to experience.' They encouraged me to embrace that and tell her.

"I really struggled with, 'Do I shatter her illusion and break the mystique and magic of her thinking that Staley is real?'" 

With Staley having to shoot several videos from home due to COVID-19, there was really no other choice but to disclose the truth. After all, Margaret undoubtedly would see Staley in her house and demand an explanation. 

So the classified information was divulged—and the conversation didn't go very well. 

"She sat there dumbfounded for a minute looking at me," Staley's handler said. "She couldn't piece it together. She said, 'Wait, so you're the guy in the costume?' I said, 'Yeah, I'm the guy in the costume.' She's like, 'Wow, OK.' Then I said, 'So can I start wearing the costume and shooting some videos, because everyone has to stay at home right now and Staley has a message to put out and he'd like to say hi to the fans?' But it was a no-go. She's like, 'No, absolutely not, oh no.'"

Margaret wasn't kidding. When Staley began tape an alphabet challenge video—where the Bears mascot did an exercise corresponding to every letter in the alphabet—she fled to her room and barricaded her door with a clothes hamper and about 30 stuffed animals. 

With Margaret still frightened by Staley, all mascot-related work inside the home doesn't begin until after she goes to bed.

"I have been reduced to waiting until after bedtime, which is usually 8:30 or 9 o'clock by the time she falls asleep," said Staley's handler. "I don't start shooting any videos until 9:30 or 10 o'clock when I know the coast is clear, and I'm oftentimes up until 2 in the morning finishing up a video because I can't do it during the day.

"So that's been my experience over the last couple months. I'm on like a third-shift rotation. Sometimes I get a little done during nap time. But usually I don't start anything Staley-related until the evening hours."

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