Sunny in San Francisco
Things are looking sunny for Charles Caston.
From small beginnings on King Field as the Brookhaven High School mascot, Caston has gone far is the “mascoting” world and is now wrapping up his second year as a mascot with the San Francisco Giants baseball team.
“You have to be a rock star,” said Caston, describing the key to success as a mascot.
The 1996 BHS graduate said the Giants have two mascots: Lou Seal and Sunny the Sun. Caston plays Sunny.
Caston last took to the field last Tuesday toward the end of the regular baseball season for the Giants.
Due to a rotating schedule, he didn’t appear on the field for Saturday’s playoff game against the Cincinnati Reds and won’t appear in Sunday’s game against the Reds, either. But if the Giants advance in the playoffs, Caston could be called back into service.
Through the influence of the BHS cheerleading coach and a drama teacher, Caston took on the task of mascoting for the school and was able to hone his skills through time at the games and cheerleading camps he traveled to.
He didn’t necessarily foresee his path to professional mascoting at the time, but the experience did significantly shape how he thought of his future.
“I fell in love with the energy,” Caston said. “I knew that I wanted to do something where there was a crowd and I was jumping around.”
Caston started thinking seriously about pursuing mascoting professionally in 2000. After some thought, he took the plunge and moved to San Francisco, but he didn’t jump onto the sidelines of a professional baseball team right away.
“I had to put my time in,” Caston said.
The life of a mascot can be very unpredictable, with lots of one-time gigs and plenty of opportunity for discouragement.
“There’s a lot of ups and downs with it where you think you’ve gotten the job and you haven’t,” Caston said.
When it comes time to get to work, though, Caston is all business.
“When you’re on, you’re on,” he said.
Since coming to San Francisco, Caston has been inside the suit of everything from Chester Cheetah to the Nesquik Bunny.
He’s been cats. He’s been a penguin. He’s had the opportunity to mascot for Nintendo and played Clifford the dog at an event First Lady Michelle Obama attended.
“I’ve done it all,” Caston said, laughing.
Two years ago, Caston had the chance to apply for a spot with the San Francisco Giants. He had the experience required and the team liked what they saw.
“They were amazed that I had the ability to do what I was doing without any direction,” Caston said.
The job isn’t complicated, but a good degree of physical fitness is required, as is the ability to interact with crowd and get results.
That’s what Caston likes the most.
“My favorite part is bringing the crowd to life with my dancing,” Caston said.
There’s no real preparation or practice involved for his work with the Giants, other than arriving for the games early and a little stretching.
But Caston seems to be a natural.
“I’ve been told I’m a character, so it works,” Caston said.