Interview with Robert Goldstein, Class of 1983



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Illinois State University Archivist April Anderson-Zorn and Robert “Bob” Goldstein, Class of 1983, discuss Goldstein’s tenure as the first Reggie Redbird mascot (1981-1983) via Zoom videoconferencing software on March 15, 2022. Goldstein, originally from Palatine, Illinois, recounts how his decision to attend ISU was influenced by family tradition, as three of his siblings had also attended the university. Upon arriving on campus, Goldstein quickly became immersed in campus life and found himself drawn to the energetic atmosphere of ISU's sporting events. Goldstein shares a humorous anecdote about juggling sports balls while wearing a makeshift costume during the tryouts to become the first Reggie Redbird mascot. After winning the role, he attended a mascot training camp as the only participant without a costume, as Reggie was still under construction. He had initially been instructed to keep his identity a secret and so spent his first year working undercover; only his parents and girlfriend knew the identity of the man behind the bird. Despite the difficulties, Goldstein's enthusiasm for the role shines through as he recalls the joy of energizing crowds and engaging with fans. He shares humorous mishaps, such as accidentally knocking over a football player during a game, and discusses the practicalities of managing sweat and odor in the mascot suit.

One notable event during Goldstein’s tenure as Reggie was the opening of the first McDonald's in Normal, where Reggie's presence overshadowed that of Ronald McDonald. Goldstein also shares anecdotes about his interactions with other mascots, particularly Benny the Blue Demon from DePaul University, and some of the challenges he faced during away games, such as being “stolen” and passed up the bleachers by opposing fans at Western Illinois. Despite such incidents, Goldstein cherishes his role as Reggie, finding fulfillment in connecting with fans and representing the university. He discusses the unveiling of Reggie and the impact it had on his confidence and later professional endeavors, highlighting how the experience shaped his later career. Additionally, Goldstein reflects on both the positive and challenging aspects of being a mascot, including the physical discomfort of wearing the costume during hot football games. Goldstein’s favorite memory of being Reggie is taking off his mascot head during halftime of the final 1982 home basketball game.

Goldstein concludes by offering advice for future mascots, stressing the importance of embodying the character positively and engaging with fans. He stresses the energy exchange between mascots, players, and crowds, emphasizing the mascot's role in enhancing event atmospheres. Goldstein expresses pride in his tenure as Reggie, sharing anecdotes about the lasting impact of his role. “I brought life to the suit,” he says, “and it’s a responsibility because you are representing the university and you can be just a cartoon character or you can be like a cutout or you can be this dynamic thing that brings energy and notoriety to the school for its own sake.”

Interview Date



  • Introduction; decision to attend ISU: 00:00-01:48
  • Previous Redbird mascot: 01:48-05:07
  • Mascot camp; tryouts: 05:07-10:07
  • Navigating secrecy of first year as Reggie: 10:07-11:51
  • Design of Reggie costume; lack of vision: 11:51-14:12
  • Colliding with a football player; cleaning the suit; donning the suit; living in Watterson Towers: 14:12-19:07
  • Reggie’s notable community appearances; debut: 19:41-25:35
  • Being “stolen” by fans; rivalry with Blue Demon: 26:28-30:15
  • Halftime dancing controversy; free-throw contest: 30:15-33:30
  • Television reveal; halftime reveal: 33:30-36:35
  • Impact of mascot work on future career: 36:35-38:16
  • Earning credit for mascot work: 38:16-40:59
  • Contest to name mascot: 40:59-41:44
  • Challenging moments as Reggie; suit storage: 41:44-44:30
  • Advice for future mascots; pride regarding role; conclusion: 44:30-49:10

Interview with Robert Goldstein, Class of 1983