Lexington event photographer: Communing with the Cats

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As the official University of Kentucky mascot, Wildcat seems to like to make an entrance.

Sunday morning, I was in line to take communion with my fellow Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church members when he burst through the front doors of the church, arms rais … and quickly realized he and the University of Kentucky cheerleaders were maybe a few minutes early, and we were concentrating on another religion for a few minutes. Wildcat folded his hands and stood respectfully by, paws folded, and waited for us to finish our service before it was time for the Cats.

As has been our recent tradition at Maxwell, on the last Sunday of the regular season, when the Cats play at noon on CBS, we gather in our fellowship hall for a chili lunch to watch the game and cheer on the Cats with people from the community. This year, since it was an away game, a few few members thought it would cool to invite the UK mascot and some cheerleaders to help pump up our Wildcat fever. Of course, this was full of photo opportunities, particularly when it came to UK’s instinctive mascot.

I always knew Wildcat was fun to watch on the sidelines, but Sunday, I became impressed with what an entertainer he is. Prior to tip-off, he led a pep rally and then worked the room engaging with folks, trying to demonstrate his supposed ability to balance a spoon on his nose to one kid. When the game started, he plopped down right in front of the TV screen and motioned to the kids to come join them. Soon, he was was silently cheering on the team with the skill of Jean Dujardin, slapping hight fives with the kids for all points scored by Big Blue. When the feed for our TV signal briefly failed, he was ready to put on a show, doing shadow figures in front of the screen and mimicking childish sorrow. Most important, it seemed anyone who wanted a moment with Wildcat got one.

Ultimately, he did the most important thing the representative of an iconic institution can do: He made our fans feel even more connected to the Cats. When Rev. Woody introduced him to the congregation at the end of Sunday’s service, he called Wildcat, “A friend.” By the end of the service, we felt he was one.

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