Daniel Szwerc is the worst-kept secret on the Drexel campus. He says he tries not to make it too public that he's the guy inside the blue furry dragon known as Mario the Magnificent. The jig is up — Daniel gave us the inside scoop about what it's like to breathe fire (metaphorically).
How long have you been wearing the costume of Mario the dragon?
I have been a dragon since the beginning of freshman year. When I got here as a freshman, I was looking online to see things to get involved with on campus, then I saw it on the athletics website. I got in touch with them and followed up a few times, they happened to have an opening.
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What is exciting to you about performing?
I love being able to go anywhere and do anything you want — there is a great deal of freedom. Nobody is judging me based on Dan acting weird (but the cheerleaders on the dance team will make fun of me for it later.) There is a lot of freedom to walk through the stands. It’s a fun opportunity to do whatever you want.
So, what's it like inside that dragon?
It’s really, really hot. The Drexel costume is much thicker than other schools that I’ve seen, so it’s pretty heavy and it has very limited field of view. If you want to know what it’s like, just make a circle with your hands about six inches away from your eyes and that’s the field of view you have for a few hours. For the first half hour it’s a lot of fun and then after that it’s a race to the finish so I can cool down and get out of it. There was a game once against UMASS where it went into overtime and I was too dizzy to stand up straight.
Yowza. So how do you prepare for the brutal heat?
Usually the night before an appearance, especially if it's a big one, I start drinking a lot of water. I bring a lot of water with me, too. I try to always have somebody else to come along in the event that it’s getting to be too much.
So, do you have some amazing moves?
I’m not a great dancer. Some of my good friends on the dance team have been trying to fix that, but to no avail. In the costume it doesn’t really matter being silly and having ridiculous dance moves is even better at a certain point.