By Zane Clark
“Who is Barry?”
That question was at the center of an advertising crusade spread throughout Rowan College at Burlington County’s campus in Mount Laurel and social media channels for the past several weeks.
As of Nov. 13, at noon, students and staff of the college could quit scratching their heads, stop grasping their chins and relax their furrowed brows as college officials finally revealed the answer to RCBC’s most pressing question.
Barry is none other than “Barry the Baron” – the costumed personification of the school’s longtime mascot of The Baron.
Complete with his own personalized introduction from a town crier, Barry the Baron debuted clad in a full set of shining, silver armor, with a bright red cape in tow.
While walking, but not quite talking, the debut of Barry the Baron finally brought some character to the school’s longtime mascot as students and staff cheered in the school’s crowded Student Success Center in Mount Laurel.
The Baron has served as the school’s mascot for more than three decades since the 1987-1988 academic year, back when the school was still known as Burlington County College and its main campus was still in Pemberton.
According to RCBC president Michael Cioce, the students of 30 years ago settled on The Baron as the school’s mascot for two reasons.
First, the name was a simple reference to New Jersey’s nearby Pine Barrens.
Second, The Baron would serve as figure that would be a “champion” for high quality education with the “fighting spirit” inherit in the college’s students.
Yet, as Cioce noted, The Baron’s true identity has been shrouded in secrecy until last week.
“Who is he? How does he advance the mission of RCBC? What is his favorite 3+1 program?” Cioce asked, referencing the program where, in the spring of 2017, RCBC became the first community college in the region to offer junior-year courses for several degrees, with students then undertaking their senior year of study at Rowan University in Glassboro.
College officials said they hope Barry the Baron will serve as another way to increase school spirit and bring more energy to future events on campus.
Cioce also took a moment to present Barry the Baron with his shield and sword for the first time and officially dub him “Sir Barry.”
To assist with that honor, Cioce also welcomed the Phillie Phanatic – who many consider to be one of the most recognizable mascots in all of professional sports.
With the Phanatic excessively bowing down, and Barry the Baron eventually kneeling as well, Cioce presented Barry the Baron with his “Shield of Knowledge” and “Sword of Truth.”
“The Shield of Knowledge protects you against ignorance and deception – use it wisely in your quest to promote equality through education,” Cioce said. “The Sword of Truth allows you to cut through false claims and venture into the world with righteousness and honor.”
With the conclusion of the ceremony, Barry the Baron and the Phanatic took to the crowd to pose for photos with adoring fans.