Teens Arrested, Mascot Returned
Local News - Newsmakers
Written by Millbank Daily-Weekly   
Friday, 23 November 2012 21:45

After twenty-four stressful and frantic hours, Millbank will rest easier knowing that Milton, the beloved Millbank High Viscounts mascot, has been safely returned to his home on campus.

Kidnapping high school mascots has been a tradition among tri-county area schools for nearly eighty years. It is believe to have started in 1933 when the Riverside Raiders took two prized horses used by Millbank High in its animal husbandry courses. That incident, however, was no teenager's prank. It ended in tragedy when Riverside residents, suffering through the depression, cooked and ate the horses. However, the tradition was born, and schools in the area have been sneaking away with each other's animal mascots ever since.

Because of local law and budget cutbacks, the mascots have changed over time. Millbank no longer has horses and now uses raccoons in its animal husbandry program.  But the school did have a caged bear during the 1950s. It is best remembered for mauling half of the Chesterburgh Point football team when they attempted to steal it, and subsequently helping the Viscounts upset the Americans in the 1957 Homecoming game. In the 1960s, Millbank began a long line of mascots named Milton. First, it was a dalmation, followed by a terrier, a goose, rabbit and, for the past three years, a series of hamsters.

The current Milton was found missing from its Habitrail the day before Thanksgiving, and two days before Millbank was due to play Riverside in the first round of the Gobbler Classic basketball tournament. Students believed Milton had simply escaped his Habitrail, as he often did. However, when he did not come out of hiding for cheese or celery, they suspected something more sinister was afoot. They then also noticed that Milton's food and hamster ball were missing and that a note had been left behind that read "Millbank Viscounts Rule!"

"We knew a hamster could not take the ball," said sophomore Marisa Gomez, who had been scheduled to take Milton home over the Thanksgiving break. "And I was reasonably sure a hamster can't write."

Millbank Police were notified. Chief Vernon Howard said they immediately suspected students from Riverside. However, the note made them expand the investigation.

Chief Howard said, "At first we suspected the note was a red herring left by Riverside to throw us off. But then we realized that teenagers would never--even to confuse us--say that a rival 'rules.'"

Further evidence such as footprints, reports of a truck driving around the high school with kids holding a hamster out the window, and a conversation that a cashier at Gary's Pet Emporium overheard, led local police to suspect the theft was an inside job.

Chief Howard reported today: "Three stars of the Millbank High basketball team will be placed in custody and prosecuted. After today's game against the Riverside Raiders."

The three boys, Tommy "Three-in-the-Key" Malone, Greg "Meadowlark" Wilson and Millard "Rick Barry" Petrone, admitted to taking Milton. They had originally been told by teammates to travel to Riverside and steal the Raiders' mascot, a red-tailed hawk. However, the boys found that the hawk was kept at a "scary old lady's" house, and her dogs kept barking at them. Plus, they thought they saw a cop car and were sort of freaked out about the way Riverside's streets are laid out.

"They have a lot of one-ways," said Tommy Malone, "and we got all turned around."

After failing to kidnap the Raider hawk, the boys were determined to keep the mascot-thieving tradition alive, so they decided to take their own and at least have something to show for their effort.

When asked if he regretted leaving the note at the crime scene, Malone said he was not. "Why would I regret telling the truth?"

Chief Howard said that the courts take animal theft very seriously. The boys could face up to seven years in county prison, but a sentence that severe is unlikely for juveniles. "More like four years, maybe five," he said.

Meanwhile, the theft apparently has had its intended effect: The Riverside Raiders are reportedly furious that Millbank High stole its own mascot before they could. Several Riverside students are rumored to be planning revenge by vandalizing their own gymnasium.

Reporters from the Riverside Review contributed to this article.

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