Otto the Orange wasn’t always Syracuse University’s mascot, but Otto is the longest-running, most endearing, and arguably, the cutest. From the sidelines at Syracuse University Athletic games, to community events and around campus, Otto spreads joy and Orange spirit.
But who are the people inside the mascot suit? The students selected for the mascot team are sworn to secrecy, often going to great lengths to hide their Orange identity, until they are finally revealed their senior year.
This year, three seniors were unveiled as Otto: Camille Juliano ’22, a health and exercise science major in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics; Moriah Humiston ’22, a dual major in broadcast and digital journalism and citizenship and civic engagement in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; and Salvatore Pepe ’22, studying entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises and supply chain management in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, and information management and technology in the School of Information Studies. And now they’re sharing their thoughts on what it’s like to be Otto!
How has being Otto influenced your experience at Syracuse, and what does it mean to carry the Otto traditions forward?
Camille: Being Otto has given me an amazing college experience. For most of my friends, the weekends are centered around sports games and homework. For me, my weekends are filled with cheering on the Orange too, albeit from a different angle. I also go to Orange After Dark events, kids’ birthday parties, weddings and team meetings. I feel so lucky to have gotten the experience of being on the Otto team and I'm honored to have gotten to know some of most hard-working, loving and dedicated people through this program.
Moriah: Otto has made me think about how to be a positive influence in people’s lives and try harder to show more compassion for others. Otto is compassionate, selfless and spreads joy. I do my best to keep up that tradition.
Salvatore: Being an Otto has changed my entire college experience. I love Syracuse University and my appreciation for this place has risen through my time as Otto. Being on the other side of the fuzzy orange costume gives me a great sense of purpose and happiness. It is an incredible honor to have worn the suit and I will treasure it for the rest of my life. I'm looking forward to my new role as an alumnus where I can continue to impact the team in a positive way.
How hard was it to keep the secret that you’re Otto? Did you ever almost spill your secret?
Camille: It was a hard secret to keep, but the few people who I told were a huge help in keeping my secret. Being an Otto is not a 9-5 job. It means having some very early mornings and super late nights. I’ve had times where I’ve gotten home at two o’clock in the morning sweaty and exhausted, and explained it to my roommates that I went to the gym at midnight. Amazingly, most people believed me!
Moriah: It was tough. I’ll admit it—I slipped up once! Thankfully the person who figured it out was kind enough to keep the secret.
Salvatore: Keeping the secret was pretty easy. I didn't tell anyone until my senior year when I started living with roommates. What was not easy was combatting the speculations of others—that required some quick thinking and conversational diversions. There were a couple of times I almost spilled the beans while eating at the dining hall. Part of the difficulty of keeping the secret is that being Otto truly becomes a huge part of your life. Keeping those lives separate can be really challenging at times.
What are your favorite memories or funniest moments about being Otto?
Camille: Some of my favorite moments were meeting people who had never met Otto before—occasionally some people are startled by this huge orange with big eyes running around, but most are genuinely excited and happy to see Otto. Knowing I've made someone else's day is one of the best feelings for me.
Some of the funniest moments have been the times I've been in suit and run into my friends on campus. I almost always would later see their social media posts about how Otto wouldn't leave them alone in the library or how Otto signed their textbook and now they don't want to re-sell it!
Moriah: Overall, my favorite moment is getting the opportunity to bring joy to people’s lives as Otto and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Salvatore: One of my favorite memories was going to Dr. Weeks Elementary School in Syracuse as Otto. It was an incredibly humbling and heart-warming experience to visit with the students. Sometimes we forget how much of an impact Otto can make and this experience was a wonderful reminder of the goodness that Otto embodies.