RICHMOND, Va. — Following an unusually high number of local restaurants that have been devastated by fires since the start of the year, the Richmond City Council unveiled a new mascot today that is intended to help educate the populace on how to prevent future conflagrations.
The new mascot, a North American river otter named Sparky, will remind citizens and restaurant employees alike about the dangers of improper kitchen maintenance.
“Sparky Otter is our answer to the remarkable rise of burning kitchens around town,” 5th District representative Miranda Shields said, adding that an otter was chosen as the mascot due to the animal’s delightful charm and charisma.
“Remember kids, Sparky Otter says ‘don’t forget to clean out your overhead vents on a regular basis!’” Shields continued, reciting one of Sparky’s intended messages.
The city plans to publicize Sparky Otter and his safety messages in various ways, including posted flyers, sponsored digital content online, and a few 15-second cable television commercials and radio ads.
Sparky’s signature portrait, of an otter wearing a cooking apron in a kitchen setting, will be coupled with different safety reminders related to maintaining a kitchen. Sparky’s messages include reminders about turning off grills before leaving the kitchen, the importance of cleaning behind a deep fryer more than once a year, and the dangers of scheduling Chad to close on a Saturday evening shift.
In addition to his safety messages, residents of Richmond can expect to see Sparky Otter merchandise around town.
“We’re looking to sell Sparky stuffed animals, coffee mugs, all sorts of things,” Shields explained. “Our first plan is to create a 2018 calendar with every month featuring a safety message from him. For example, throughout February, Sparky will be on your kitchen wall to remind you to clean up excess grease on grills.”
The council plans to launch Sparky’s campaign next month and is eager to see the results of his public service announcements.
“We’re confident that if we can get Sparky in front of as many people as possible, we can help extinguish the threat of future incidents. Remember Richmond, only YOU can prevent restaurant fires.”