By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It only happens once a year, and Saturday is the day you’ll have a chance to meet some of Baltimore’s most famous characters. Back by popular demand, it’s Meet the Mascot Day.

Ron Matz reports it’s a chance for you to go behind the mask at the Sports Legends Museum.

The Oriole Bird is a Baltimore icon. You see him everywhere, giving high fives and getting big smiles.

Lyle McCollum is the man inside the bird costume.

“I’ve been doing this about eight and a half years now. It’s a lot of fun. The best part is seeing the kids smiling and everyone enjoying themselves, either at the game or the public appearances I go to. It’s great seeing everybody happy,” McCollum said.

If this looks easy, think again.

“You’ve got to keep a lot of things in mind while you’re doing it. You’ve got to be entertaining. You have to be safe. You have to be professional. You just can’t run around crazy. You have to know what you’re doing and take a lot of care,” McCollum said.

Saturday you can meet The Bird, Poe from the Ravens, the Towson Tiger and the folks who play them. It’s Meet the Mascot Day at Sports Legends Museum.

“We have it every year, and people love it. For the price of admission to the museum you get into the program for free,” said John Ziemann, Sports Legends Museum. “There’s something very rewarding about this. When the kids come in, their faces light up.”

And it’s a celebration for McCollum every time he makes the transformation.

“I think a lot of people in the community have grown up seeing The Bird at the games. It’s something I’m proud to be a part of, to keep something going that started in 1979,” McCollum said.

The Bird was born more than 30 years ago. McCollum is the keeper of the Oriole flame.

Saturday’s Meet the Mascot Day begins at Sports Legends at 1 p.m.

“We’ll start with a panel discussion on how to be a mascot, then we bring all the mascots in and have a meet and greet. Our special guests will be kids from Casey Cares. We’ll have the Ravens mascots too, the birds Rise and Conquer from the Maryland Zoo,” Ziemann said.

Before becoming the Oriole Bird McCollum was a mascot for a baseball team in Japan.

“I lived in Hiroshima, Japan, for two years,” he said. “I worked for the Hiroshima Carp baseball team. I got to be the mascot for that team, and it was a lot of fun. It’s an interesting and different culture.”

Saturday’s event is free with the price of admission to the Sports Legends Museum. For more information about Meet the Mascot Day, click here.

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