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Voting underway for Chesterfield’s first mascot

A raccoon, a retriever, a chipmunk and a bear — each dressed as a miner — are the finalists to become "Cole," Chesterfield County's first ever mascot.
Chesterfield County
AI-generated renderings of the four mammals vying to represent Chesterfield County at sporting events, parks and recreation activities.

The county is asking the public to choose from four animal finalists.

A raccoon, a labrador retriever, a chipmunk or a bear: These are the options for Chesterfield County’s first mascot. The county is asking for public consensus on which would best represent the Central Virginia locality with anthropomorphic cuteness.

Each animal is held up for the traits it brings to the table: The county bills raccoons as adaptable, skillful and resourceful. Bears are curious and adaptable. Retrievers are happy and friendly. Chipmunks are adventurous and active.

According to county spokesperson Liz Hart, the four finalists were whittled down by a committee from over 100 initial submissions from county employees.

An overwhelming majority of those suggestions were mammals. Discarded ideas included food or other animals like a frog, wood duck and a humanized pickle. Chesterfield’s mascot, once decided and designed, will represent the county at recreational areas and sporting events.

And while the county doesn’t know what form it will take, Hart said the animal already has a name.

“When we were going through submissions, a lot of our employees were mentioning something about our deep rich history in coal mining,” she said. “We thought, ‘Why don’t we just name the mascot Cole?’”

To match the theme, AI-generated renderings of the finalists show all four animals dressed in miner outfits.

Chesterfield is accepting votes until July 10 at the Experience Chesterfield website. Once a winner is selected, the county plans to commission a local artist to design the life-size mascot’s outfit.

Voting is also open to anyone, anywhere, according to Hart, “Because there are people who visit who might not necessarily live in Chesterfield.”

Hart acknowledged the possibility that open voting could lead to election chicanery — especially with a raccoon, often referred to in internet memes as a “trash panda” — but said safeguards are in place.

“Anyone can vote as long as they vote once,” she said.

Billy Shields is a multimedia journalist with VPM News Focal Point.
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