WHITING - The Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting is hosting its grand opening celebration today through Sunday. Executive Director Orestes Hernandez says the grand opening is just the first in a series of events the hall plans to host in the coming years. 

The MHOF was founded as an online-only venue with an induction ceremony taking place each year in Philadelphia, a practce that will now be transitioned into a celebration at the hall of fame in Whiting. 

In September 2014, the hall began planning its move to Whiting to create a permanent Mascot Hall of Fame on the south shore of Lake Michigan. The hall had a soft opening in December. Since then, Hernandez says the hall of fame has been busiest on weekends and holidays- a good indication of what he hopes to be a busy summer. The hall expects to have its ten thousandth visitor since the soft open at the grand opening festivities Sunday. 

The event will include mascot appearances, family activities and a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura. Mascots will also be equipped with 8.5-foot-tall fuzzy scissors of their own with which they will attempt to cut a ribbon as well. 

April 6 will feature appearances by Hall of Famers Tommy Hawk (Chicago Blackhawks), The Nittany Lion (Penn State University), Lil Red (University of Nebraska), Sluggerrr (Kansas City Royals), KC Wolf (Kansas City Chiefs) and the MHOF’s official mascot, Reggy.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business , Hernandez said that although the grand opening ceremony will have meet-and-greets with mascots, it won't be the only time to see them in person. “One of the things that’s really exciting when you think about what a hall of fame institiution is and you conceptualize what they do, every year there has got to be an induction ceremony of a new hall of fame class. And so, that’s going to be our signature event, every year, every summer." 

Hernandez said the first induction ceremony is set for this summer, followed by new events that will get the hall of fame's name out and encourage people to come visit Whiting. 

"This year’s inaugural induction weekend will be Father’s Day weekend this year which is June 14,15,16 here in Whiting Indiana. And we are planning a three day mascot festival ripe with a cocktail reception and mascot parade down the historic business district here in Whiting. Outdoor activities, an outdoor stage which we are hoping to broadcast live, on Facebook Live to the country. So, we are excited about getting the word out and honoring not only the previously inducted hall of fame mascots, which there are 17, but inducting for the first time the four elected hall-of-famers from 2017 who have been holding on being inducted until now, now that they all have a home here at the mascot hall of fame. So it’s going to be very exciting and that will be our signature annual event, our biggest event of the year, and it's very exciting.”