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The Roanoke Rapids Parks and Recreation Department has a new mascot and is seeking the public’s help in naming the chipmunk.

Beginning Friday on its Facebook page the department will give the public the opportunity to vote on three pre-selected names or select a name of their own choosing.

The names selected by the department’s staff are Chippy, Cheeky and Champ.

The deadline for voting is September 3 and on September 4 the results of the polling will be announced and the critter will be named.

The department is already teasing the arrival of its new mascot with videos on its social media page and thus far it has been spotted at the Roanoke Canal Trail, taking a reading break at the library and as of this morning was seen at the Jo Story Center for Active Adults.

While both Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Kelly Manning and Jo Story Supervisor Thomas Goble are aware chipmunks aren’t native to the Roanoke Valley, people and children tend to like them “because they’re cute,” Goble said.

An entire backstory of how the chipmunk chose Roanoke Rapids has been written and will be released at the time his name becomes official.

The administrative side of choosing the mascot comes from the department having to come up with alternatives to camps and facilities shut down during the novel coronavirus pandemic. “The staff has been meeting for ideas that are out of the box,” Manning said.

One of the ways the mascot will be incorporated is through a kid’s club in which 6 through 10-year-olds will get a letter welcoming them to the club as well as birthday greetings. They will also get information twice a year on activities they can participate in.

Once things get back to normal, the chipmunk will appear at events such as the Easter egg hunt, the halloween carnival, Christmas parade and other events.

“All summer we’ve been trying to think way outside the box,” Goble said. “We’re trying to think of ways to get people outside and active and trying to get them to stay active.”

Each employee at the department has a specialization which has added to its creativity throughout the pandemic, Manning said. “They’ve come up with activities for the whole community.”