How a Halifax oyster mascot lit up the internet

·2 min read
This is the original drawing the mascot costume was based on.  (The Coast - image credit)
This is the original drawing the mascot costume was based on. (The Coast - image credit)

Meet Pearl, a local Halifax mascot who has garnered worldwide attention online.

Pearl is the mascot of the Halifax Oyster Festival — a giant oyster with over a dozen eyes, luscious lips and long legs.

When Amy Langdon of Halifax recently saw an old photo of Pearl on her Facebook timeline, she knew others would want to see it too.

She posted it to Twitter on Sunday and that tweet now has over 220,000 likes.

"I wanted to share it with my city and I didn't expect it to get this kind of attention," Langdon said.

The Coast, a digital-first news outlet in Halifax, puts on the Halifax Oyster Festival every year. They created Pearl six years ago to represent the festival.

Christine Oreskovich is the publisher of The Coast and the main organizer of the oyster festival.

She had the original vision to create Pearl and says the goal was always to create something a little creepy.

"This was the fun part of the festival, trying to create a look and an ambiance that was just not your regular kind of food festival."

Oreskovich asked a member of her team to draw up an initial design for their mascot. Aziza Asat had done other design work for The Coast but nothing quite like Pearl.

She says she went all out with her first design, fully expecting to be asked to change some of the weirder things about Pearl.

The Coast
The Coast

But "they ended up really, really liking Pearl,"  Asat said.

Pearl officially came to life in 2018, when The Coast tasked local artist Helah Cooper with making the mascot out of papier mâché and paint.

"It's fun when you work with creative types who take your vision and make something that you couldn't even possibly imagine they could make," said Oreskovich.

Since going viral, Pearl has divided opinion online: Some love her, others find her creepy. She has been compared to a Doctor Who villain, a cult leader and a biblically accurate angel.

"People are creating unbelievable fan art, or nightmare art," said Oreskovich.

Asat says the mascot holds a very special place in her heart. She is originally from Uzbekistan, a landlocked country. She had no idea what oysters looked like before she was asked to draw Pearl.

"As evil as Pearl looks, she really comes from this pure place in my imagination," said Asat.

Pearl has been locked away for the last two years, since the Halifax Oyster Festival was cancelled during the pandemic.

But Oreskovich says Pearl will be making her official comeback in a few days, making a few appearances before the oyster festival takes place on Sept. 23 and 24.

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