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Monday, September 30, 2019

The Legend of Rosie Red and her tie to the community


By Jeremy Shannon 

Other than my faith and family, perhaps there has been no more consistent presence in my life than the Cincinnati Reds. Some of my most vivid memories growing up are obscure moments at Riverfront Stadium or riding in a car listening to Marty and Joe call a game. I used to dream of living close enough to the stadium to be able to go to games all the time.  You can imagine the joy I have found over the last two years living only 5 miles from Great American Ballpark.


What I never expected was that many of my favorite memories would be centered not on the game itself but of the memories made with my three year old, Crosley, as we seek out her hero, Rosie Red.

During the 2018 season, Jesse Winker became the first player to hit the Toyota Tundra sign (it was a technicality, but ok). Where was I? Walking along the concourse with my daughter looking for Rosie.

At every Reds event our main objective is to find Rosie.

This has resulted in things like running halfway around the stadium or waiting by a concession stand for 3 innings because we heard that Rosie might make an appearance.  I, a grown man, have stood hollering like a fool for Rosie to walk over from the field to see us. Do you remember where you were this year during this year’s Kentucky Derby? I was down the left field line in the rain holding my phone up so my daughter could Facetime with Rosie before she went to bed.

Jeremy, Crosley and Rosie. 
Crosley is confident that Rosie is her best bud. We have attended enough games over the last two seasons that Rosie has sat with her at several games, picked her up, and opened her arms up for a hug. While mascots aren’t allowed to speak, her mannerisms make my daughter feel like she is the most important person in the world. Crosley is convinced that Rosie is just as excited to see her as she is excited to see Rosie.

A few months ago I learned that Rosie actually has strong ties to the Fort Thomas community.

Perhaps you have even met Rosie without realizing it. Since my hope is to share good news about things happening in our community, I knew this was a story that I could get 100% behind because I have felt the effects first hand.

As Superman is sometimes Clark Kent, Rosie’s daytime alias is Amy Burgess. Her husband is none other than Jason Burgess, director of the theatre program at Highlands High School. A few weeks ago I met with Amy and Jason at Tower Park to talk about her work as Rosie and also their connections to the Fort Thomas community. What quickly became apparent is their deep appreciation for the arts and a love for the students that they connect with every day.

Jason and Amy Burgess. 

The Burgesses are both theatre majors who met each other while interning with Ensemble Theatre in Cincinnati in the 2004-2005 season. Thirteen years ago, Jason took on the position as theatre teacher and Director of Theatre Programming. In addition Jason’s work, Amy directs the choreography for their shows. Around the same time that Jason began working at Highlands, Amy took on a role that she admits she never would have thought of when growing up.

“I didn’t dream of being Rosie because I didn’t know that was even a thing.”

In fact, what many people do not realize is that Burgess is the original Rosie Red and has been in the role since Rosie's inception in 2008. One of the cool things about being the original is that she has helped create the persona and helped establish how Rosie will be seen for hopefully generations to come. This has provided her with a great creative outlet. Additionally, they are able to use her experience as a great teaching opportunity for students. Jason specifically mentioned some of the teaching lessons for his students in showing them where hard work can lead as they prepare for their future.

He says he can talk to them about “the idea of a legacy. What will your legacy be? She created this character.”

The combination of working as Rosie Red and working with the theatre program can create for a hectic family schedule. With the Highlands drama program there are multiple shows going on during the entire school year, requiring long hours and late nights. Additionally, Rosie Red makes close to 250-300 appearances during the year in addition to 81 home games which creates a lot of demand for Amy’s schedule. Combine this with raising their two young daughters shows a strong level of commitment to not only the arts, but making a difference in the lives of others.

I’ve already mentioned the love affair that my family has with Rosie Red. Amy understands the weight of this responsibility and does not take for granted the ability that she has to brighten the days of those who come to see Rosie.

"It's cool to see how kids grow up through baseball, seeing them year after year at various events.  I think it is cool that kids admire Rosie and look up to her and want to seek me out and find me at a game.  It's an honor to be a part of their lives if only for a few moments."

She also spoke about how there are many kids that she has gotten to see as Rosie and how much fun it has been to watch them grow up over the years. Amy mentioned how there was recently a Reds marketing campaign about how baseball has been woven into the history of the city.  She is proud to be able to be a part of new memories that will continue the great baseball tradition of Cincinnati.
Because Rosie is not allowed to say anything while out and about, I thought I’d give Amy and Jason a chance to dish out on some things that perhaps they wished that people knew about mascot life. One of the biggest things that they said is that people do not realize that she is responsible for taking care of her suits.  That means sewing up different parts of the costume every week. She has a rotation of about four suits, but they get a lot of wear and tear.

Additionally, there is the physical toll involved. I asked about the heat and learned that there really are no good ways to keep cool, even though everyone seems to have a suggestion. Additionally, the costumes can result in medical issues like plantar fasciitis, which can result in pain during the season. After our interview she even talked about one of her daughters being born right before the 2012 playoffs and she went back to being Rosie just a few weeks after birth.

As a theatre family would probably be expected to say, “The show must go on.”

She can use this hard work to pick at their drama students a bit. Amy joked that they know she isn’t going to give them much sympathy about being hot, tired, or busy because they know exactly what she does. It’s all in good fun though and only possible because of the love shown to their students.
As baseball season is wrapping up, theatre season is already in full swing. I asked Jason Burgess about their current work and on the day we spoke he was in the middle of interviewing students who were interested in being a part of their next play, The Diary of Anne Frank.

Listening to their story, it is clear that following their passions have led them to this community and have positioned them to impact countless students through their work at Highlands and with the Cincinnati Reds. I, for one, am thankful their faithfulness has impacted my little girl and how we have been able to make memories that will last a lifetime.

In a world that needs good news, I am thankful that there are people like Rosie, Amy, and Jason who seek out ways to impact the world by doing the things that they love. How can you do the same?

This article was written with the hope of sharing good news of things happening in our community. We are looking for reasons to celebrate! If you have a story that you think should be shared, please contact Jeremy Shannon at jshannon@fbcftthomas.com.

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