After the brouhaha of fabric mascots battled each other for the bragging rights of Texas’ best, one raised their hinged jaw above the heap of battered foam and school spirit to claim the prize. The community of Hutto declared their love for the hippo, giving the lard mammal the title of the No. 1 mascot in the Lone Star state. The Hutto Hippos garnered thousands of votes; the town — located on the outskirts of Austin — spread the contest throughout the area, hoping that their local animal won our Mascot Melee: March Madness bracket challenge. As a reward, the school will receive a plaque commemorating their victory — celebrating the ferocious beast that scared Africa to name it one of the most dangerous animals on the continent.
“Anytime anyone honors us or the Hippos, we come out in full force,” said Todd Robison, director of communications and community relations at Hutto High School. “Even to be recognized in the original bracket is an honor.”
Legend has it, a circus train passed through town in the early 1900s. When the crew stopped to water the animals, a hippo escaped and went for a swim at Cottonwood Creek. A telegram was sent to the surrounding communities, notifying them that a hippo was loose in the town, and to halt all traffic from coming into the area which likely startled the residents that such a bloodthirsty beast was essentially bathing himself before gobbling everyone up as his appetizer.
Soon after, the school district adopted the aggressive animal as their mascot. Nine schools in the area currently have the name, which gets very confusing when teams play one another; Hutto is the only school district named after the Hippo.
I phoned Hutto HS to inform them that they won our contest and a student picked up. I was prepared to describe what the award was, but before I could, the student aid cut me off.
“I know who you are. Yeah buddy, I voted twice for that. Our whole community did.”
There are over a thousand statues of Hippos that clutter the town, like lawn gnome ornaments clogging the front yard of an elderly person’s property.
“Some weigh about 250 pounds and those are the smaller ones…some businesses have huge concrete hippos in front of their businesses,” Robison said. “We personalize them and paint them. For an example, my family and I are big Texas Tech fans. Which is really ironic since we are in Longhorns country. We painted it the school colors with the double “TT” on it. Our band director has music notes, the fire station has dalmatian. They’re all very unique.”
The hippo lovers continue to support their individuality and swell with pride anytime they are mentioned amongst the “best-of” in the country. Their social media page “Hippo Nation” is always passionate about defending the creature, constantly promoting the namesake of the community.
“We take great pride,” Robison said. “I know it’s not an athletic competition, but the fact that people want to get out in vote is great. We are very honored to be named best in Texas.”