The glass door closes behind me as I enter the empty community room of a Belmont dormitory.
I take a seat at the round wooden table in the corner of the room, waiting anxiously to meet Belmont’s biggest celebrity.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see a feathery primrose-yellow creature approaching. Standing 8 feet tall, it’s none other than Belmont’s very own Biggy Bird.
She wobbles into the room, sliding her head against the entrance of the doorway. Feathers fall from the awkward body as she plops herself into the chair across from me.
Her eyes are a decent 2 feet above my head, and I am well aware that the body inside the suit is facing me at a lower level.
“I don’t know where to stare,” I said.
“There’s a little screen here where I can look out, so you can look at me here,” a male voice responds.
In her first interview ever, Biggy Bird opens up about life at Belmont and her views on life.
At her request, we meet in a private and isolated room.
My first question: the name.
“Facebook wouldn’t let me put my name as Big Bird so I had to put Biggy Bird,” said Bird when asked about the distinctive “y” in her name.
I know this interview is rare. Everyone seems to have a Big Bird story, but no one has ever spoken to her.
“The one rule when Big Bird goes out is to not talk,” said Bird.
According the young man wearing the suit, only a handful of people know of Bird’s true identity.
“Honestly, I’m not all that uptight about keeping it a secret. But the people who know just don’t bother to tell anyone,” he said.
In fact, there are multiple students who have made it a hobby to parade around Belmont’s campus in the Big Bird suit.
“This is something my friends and I do together. I let them borrow the suit anytime,” said the voice inside the suit.
But what inspires someone to walk around in an 8–foot tall costume of a famed character from a children’s TV show?
“One night me and friends were just hanging out. We were hammered. We were watching a show where people dressed up as random things—like a pole or a chair, and walked around in it. And I just thought, what if we just got a huge costume and walked around in it,” he said.
“We went on eBay to look for costumes and they were all about $350, and that wasn’t going to work. So we found a Big Bird costume for $150 and went for it.”
Although strange, students on campus seem to embrace the character’s residence on campus.
“He crashed my class one time, and I was so thankful. We needed that mental break, and it was hilarious to say the least,” said Belmont student, Carrie Morris, 21.
And Bird is always taking requests for crashing lectures.
“You can just contact me through my Facebook if you want a visit,” said Bird.
But don’t be expecting to see her too much.
“I try to limit my visits to once a week because I don’t want them to get old.”
Bird does a good job at maintaining her celebrity status, remaining humble about her growing fame and fan base.
“I don’t like to think of myself as a celebrity, but I think other people really like me,” said Bird.
“I let other people approach me because I don’t want to creep people out—it’s totally understandable. But when people approach me they usually ask for a hug, or tell me I’m awesome, or give me a high five.”
But not everyone shares the same love for Bird.
“One time I went out and somebody just decked me. But that was the only bad reaction I ever got,” said Bird.
“But I think it was only out of frustration of not knowing who was wearing the suit.”
And as with any character behind a mask, I was curious to know how the man behind the suit benefitted from the mystery shrouding his identity.
“I’m much more extroverted when I wear the costume. As a person, I’m normally a little bit on the shy side, so in here nobody knows who I am so I can do whatever the hell I want and just mess around with people,” he said.
But the man behind the suit doesn’t take advantage of the power that comes along with the anonymity of wearing a Big Bird costume.
“My purpose is to just be nice and make people happy. I’m a troll in that nobody knows who I am and my presence confuses people, but I have never been mean to someone or tried to cause mass chaos,” he said.
Bird certainly does confuse people—especially regarding her gender.
“Because I don’t have penis, I would say I’m a girl,” said Bird when asked about the issue.
But as the only female 8-foot tall bird on campus, Bird doesn’t get the chance to date much.
“It’s hard for me to date because I don’t talk. If I went on a date it would be really awkward.”
So does the lack of a love life cause Bird to feel lonely?
“At first I was, but when I go out people are always saying hi to me,” said Bird.
“I have a lot of friends to make up for it.”
Bird’s popularity seems to stem from her philosophy of sharing love and kindness.
“My favorite letter of the alphabet is H, because H stands for hugs,” said Bird. “Giving one person a hug can make their day so much better.”
In fact, Biggy Bird lists her political views on Facebook as, “Giving Hugs is the Answer,” followed by a smiley face.
As for the man behind the suit, he maintains that his top priority when wearing the suit is to also bring joy to students’.
“If someone ever wants me to do a favor for them, crash a class, pay a visit– just ask me. I’d be glad to do it,” he said.
“I’ll do whatever I can to make people happy.”