Categorized | Perth news

Before Perth mascot mania

… there was Samantha Swan …

CHRIS THOMSON

A woman who used to don a swan suit to welcome foreign convention organisers to Perth looked on with a smile this week as mascot mania moved the media.

Last week, oneperth.com.au revealed the City of Perth was considering the creation of a mascot.

At an upfront cost of up to $52,000, three mascot suits would cost ratepayers between $85,000 and $185,000 a year to stuff with a human, or humans, and $5000 a year to clean.

Watching the story repeated on the TV of her northern Perth home was Rebecca Preston.

Back in the late 1990s, Ms Preston worked at the Perth Convention Bureau – first as “Director of First Impressions” (receptionist), then as Sales Co-ordinator and finally assisting the bureau’s representative in Singapore.

SAMANTHA SWAN

In all these positions, she had the honour of donning a big, black and beaked suit before assuming the persona of Samantha Swan (pictured).

“I was quite amused by what I saw on TV,” Ms Preston said of this week’s mascot coverage.

“That was something we did back in the nineties.”

Back in the day, the convention bureau and WA Tourism Commission hatched a plan to greet foreign conference organisers, and Samantha emerged from the shell.

“Our Asian delegates and conference operators loved the mascot idea,” said Ms Preston who was in her late twenties when Samantha was in her prime.

“We met these people at 2.30 in the morning.”

SUPERSWAN

Ms Preston said she used to slip into the airport toilets to transform from mild-mannered receptionist into Superswan.

“I didn’t get paid any extra to do this,” she said.

“Though $85,000 to $185,000 a year would have been nice plus maybe some danger money – some of the kids could get pretty rough.”

Samantha’s one and only flight overseas, to a trade show at Batam Island off Singapore, was a sweaty affair.

“It was very hot in [the suit],” Ms Preston said.

“Oh, the humidity!”

STUFFED

The return of the swan suit from Asia raised an eyebrow or two among Customs officials back in Perth.

“They asked: “Is it stuffed?” and I said: “Only when I’m in it”,” Ms Preston quipped.

But at the dawn of the new millennium Ms Preston left the bureau and the stage was set for Samantha’s swan song.

“One of the other girls may have done it a couple of times after that,” Ms Preston said.

“Samantha’s probably tucked up somewhere a bit worse for wear after 12 years like we all are.”

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