Tradition Tuesday is a weekly feature where we explore the history, lore, and culture of the Dark Clouds. Confused about why we sing about Hot Nuts? Which Minnesota player coined “Nuts Of A Warrior”? Why does the section quack every so often? We have the answers in Tradition Tuesday.

We learned in last week’s article how the ‘Nessie’ joke spun out of control and became a core piece of Dark Clouds lore. This week, we’re going to learn how one Scotsman took it upon himself to truly embody Nessie, costume, heckling and all.

We’ll let the man in the costume, David Smith, tell the story:

We found the Nessie suit on Etsy during the off-season. A woman in Canada was making and selling them, along with some other pretty great dinosaur costumes. A link was posted to the now-defunct usldiscussions.com and I mentioned how much more heckling you could get away with if you were dressed as a character: it’s much harder to take offense at anything said by someone who is so obviously keen to make an idiot of themselves.

It was just a throwaway comment, but quite quickly Djorn Buchholz posted that he would throw in $20 to make it happen. Then someone else pledged money… and another person. I can’t remember how much the suit cost, $180 maybe, but more than a parsimonious Scotsman like myself was going to blow on a bloody dinosaur costume. But people put money in and it was obviously something my fellow Dark Clouds wanted to have happen, so I ordered one, it arrived and I wore it to the 2012 home opener at the Metrodome and most games since.

Initially there were a bunch of complaints – some attendees mistook me for the club mascot, rather than just an idiot in a dino-suit, and thought that I shouldn’t be drinking beer and shouting mean-spirited things at athletes. But Djorn sensibly filed those complaints away to be dealt with later.

Nessie the crowd pleaser (Photo: Jeremy Olson)
Nessie the crowd-pleaser (Photo: Jeremy Olson)

It’s a weird feeling having little kids get want to have their picture taken beside you, but beyond the original purpose of the suit, that’s the best thing about it. If any of those kids have a better time at a game because they had their photo taken beside a fat, shouting, Scottish guy in a costume and bug their parents to bring them to another game, I’m good with that.

After the Metrodome game I realised that the creator had simply sized up from what fit her and I had to have the crotch lowered and zipper lengthened, since it was difficult to get out of the suit in case of drinking a bunch of beers.The legs then had to be temporarily modified when Bradley Cyr and my wife, Carol Smith, took their turn in the suit when I wasn’t able to make it to the Semi-Final and Final games. It has held up well despite these changes. The fabric is made of recycled bottles and so can get wet, allows breezes through and doesn’t hold stains very well. There is a lot of coathanger-wiring near the head though, so I tend not to wear it is storms are forecast.

David outside the Nessie suit (Photo: Jeremy Olson)
David outside the Nessie suit (Photo: Jeremy Olson)

The same Etsy vendor evidently sold one to United Airlines, because there’s an identical suit that started appearing in United’s international flight safety video, which was weird. But theirs is a lot less beat-up and beer-stained than mine.

I once managed to use the Nessie costume to prove my identity to Homeland Security. After a flight from Australia to Los Angeles, I was very tired, badly dehydrated and quite out-of-it. During a security checkpoint stop at LAX I left my laptop in the tray, collected all my other stuff and accidentally abandoned it in my hurry to make my connecting flight. Realising what I had done, I rushed back and was taken by an agent to go get the laptop. He swabbed it, checked it over, then asked me to open it up and log in. I couldn’t for the life of me remember my password and stood there for a minute, fingers hovering over the keyboard, trying to remember, starting to panic. I told the agent that I was having trouble remembering. He looked at my lockscreen, which was a picture of me in the Nessie suit at a Metrodome game and said “Well, that’s you. Nobody’s going to fake that, are they?” and let me and the laptop go.

Will Nessie return for 2017?

Tough one. I don’t think so – the suit is so tall it’ll block views in a seated stadium. It really isn’t designed for sitting down (i.e. huge padded tail) and I’m probably not going to behind the goal. In our own stadium, however… maybe