Four months have passed since a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist labeled the mysterious creature found on hole No. 14 at The Club at Runaway Bay a hairless raccoon.
The animal was rumored to be el chupacabra, a creature famous in Latin lore for sucking the blood of livestock. The discovery in January brought media attention to the city from news outlets around the country and world.
But the legend of the chupacabra lives on. On Tuesday, the Runaway Bay city council named the chupacabra the city’s official mascot.
“We thought it might be a great idea to look out for its best interest – they felt concerned about its welfare and want it to have a safe haven,” said City Administrator Greg Leveling. “Some places have Big Foot, other places have the abominable snowman. If you come to Runaway Bay, chances are that you are going to run into the dreaded, legendary chupacabra.”
The city council hopes the move will cause people to chuckle, and possibly increase tourism and ultimately business in the city.
“Some people don’t know where Runaway Bay is,” said mayor pro tem Jerry St. John. “Some think it’s in Jamaica.”
St. John brought the item to the council after a citizen suggested the chupacabra be used as a promotional mascot for the city.
T-shirts made immediately after the discovery featuring the chupacabra continue to sell, St. John said. With the chupacabra serving as official mascot, the city has ordered shirts and window stickers featuring the animal for Fourth Fest on Saturday, July 3.
“With all the things going on in the world, all the negative, it might be nice to have a little fun,” St. John said.
Leveling agrees that the chupacabra gives people a reason to smile.
“With all the drab, dreary and sad things going on the world, we thought it would be nice to have a little laugh,” Leveling said. “It was an opportunity to take a breath and take a break.”
But St. John stresses that there is more than laughter behind the mascot.
“(The city council) takes seriously our responsibility. We’re not making light of our job,” he said. “I feel this will bring a little attention to Runaway Bay. It’s time to make something happen. Our plans are to encourage development.”
With his plans for the creature to become a fixture of the city, St. John is mum on whether he believes in the chupacabra.
“Is there one?” he asks, pointing to the creature on the front of his shirt. “I don’t know.”