Favorite

Utility Buds 

City's gas meter mascot offers hacky sacks, psychedelic flashbacks.

click to enlarge news23_utility_buddy_200.jpg

No, he's not the orphaned brainchild of Sid and Marty Krofft. But Utility Buddy — the dancing mascot of Richmond's Department of Public Utilities — certainly has crossover appeal similar to the 1970s live-action psychedelic Saturday morning puppet show H.R. Pufnstuf.

The saccharinely sweet mascot's target demographic may be elementary school pupils in need of firm but friendly utility-safety lessons, but to deny Utility Buddy's appeal among the region's aging stoner population would be remiss.

Indeed, it's a crossover appeal that the department seems to encourage in its marketing, which recently has included Utility Buddy-emblazoned Hacky Sacks — the sporty foot bags as ubiquitous on community-college campuses and amongst the coffee house set as Birkenstocks and the scent of patchouli.

“Kids love Hacky Sacks,” utilities spokeswoman Angela Fountain says, but “we thought Hacky Sacks skewed a little more toward middle school, so we also have stickers and magnets and activity books that we give out. Oh, and temporary tattoos. Our elementary kids love the tattoos.”

So do bikers, but Utility Buddy doesn't seem to be gaining the same traction with that crossover demographic.

“He's a friendly gas meter,” Fountain says, explaining the nuances of the character, whose stupefied smile and vapid stare render him instantly charming to both children and High Times magazine subscribers. “He's a gas meter, but he has pipes that come out of him that represent our water utility and storm-water utility.”

Utility Buddy also has an active social life — both on Facebook and through his regular Twitter posts (@UtilityBuddy) — that would belie his tender age of 10.

Mostly his tweets are about utility work and road closings, but he's also been known to get personal with fellow tweeters — and a bit frisky.

“The Goochland Gazette editor proposed marriage to him over direct messages on Twitter,” Fountain says. “She was being flirty with him.”

Coincidentally, Amy Condra, the editor in question, is in Nevada for two weeks, and unavailable for comment. Among other things, Nevada is famed for its quickie marriage laws.

Utility Buddy was unavailable for a photo because “he's at the cleaners,” Fountain says, ending speculation about a possible Vegas rendezvous. “He's too young to have a girlfriend.”

Favorite

Latest in News and Features

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Connect with Style Weekly

Newsletter Sign-Up

The Flash
The Bite
The Scoop

Most Popular Stories

  • In the Know

    In the Know

    Thad Williamson, a former policy advisor for the mayor, eyes the soon-to-be vacant 5th District City Council seat.
    • May 14, 2019
  • A Q&A with RVA Fashion Week Executive Producer Jimmy Budd

    A Q&A with RVA Fashion Week Executive Producer Jimmy Budd

    • May 14, 2019
  • Ready and Willing

    Ready and Willing

    As the fashion industry changes, VCU is preparing its students with real-world experience. Meet some of the rising young stars behind-the-scenes at this year’s Fashion Runway 2019: Shimmer.
    • May 14, 2019
  • Grit and Gears

    Grit and Gears

    A Richmond biker gets ready for one of the most ambitious races in the world.
    • May 7, 2019
  • More »

Copyright © 2019 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation