By Phoebe Ho
TORONTO, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The Toronto 2015 Pan American/Parapan Am Games' new mascot, a colorful and prickly porcupine designed by four young Chinese and Japanese students, was unveiled Wednesday in the Canadian city of Toronto.
Pachi the porcupine, who made his public debut in front of over a thousand children at the unveiling, was the final winner chosen out of a slew of mascots sent in by young designers across the country to represent the Pan Am Games, the world's third largest international multi-sport Games.
Over 4,100 designs submitted into the Toronto 2015 Mascot Creation Challenge were narrowed down to just six finalists, who were then judged by the public through an online vote. More than 30,000 people voted for their favourite animal to represent the Pan Am Games.
Pachi's charms proved to be irresistible to almost every child, who evidently couldn't get enough of the porcupine on Wednesday. It was a special moment for not just Pachi, but also his designers - Michelle Ing, 13, Paige Kunihiro, 14, Jenny Lee, 13, and Fiona Hong, 13 - who watched as their hard work came to life.
"From sketching it out on a piece of paper to him giving us hugs and high fives is amazing," said Lee.
As to why they decided to use a prickly porcupine in their work? The young designers explained that they wanted to choose an animal that was indigenous across North and South America, and could be found in every country participating in the Games.
Pachi has one distinct feature. While porcupines normally have over 30,000 quills, Pachi has 41 colorful ones to represent each Pan American team participating. The five colors used in the quills, all of which are the official colors of the Games, represent youth, passion, collaboration, determination and creativity.
And no detail was too small for the four young designers, who also came up with a meaningful name for the mascot.
"I was reading my manga book, which is a Japanese comic book, and I came across this phrase 'pachi pachi', and in English it translates to 'clapping with joy,'" said Kunihiro. "And I thought this would be amazing for Pachi's name because in the Pan Am Games we're all going to be cheering on our superstars."
It all started as a simple school project led by their gym teacher Mari Ellery, who wanted to inspire her students to learn more about amateur sports and what it's all about. She got over 200 students from her school to submit their designs.
"I really like the idea that the kids could vote on it and they could take ownership of that process," said Ellery.
Over 15,000 people were involved in designing a potential mascot, according to the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games' CEO Ian Troop. Engaging and inspiring children was what the competition was all about, he said.
"This is a Games of the people, so we're looking for ways we can reach into the community and get them very much engaged in the Games in a meaningful way," he said. "This mascot has been a very good example of our being able to reach in and inspire kids."
The estimated 250,000 spectators can expect to see Pachi the porcupine, the creation of four young students, welcoming everyone at the 2015 Games.