Arts Desk

Chompie’s Absence, Explained

Discovery Channel

Per Tracy Morgan's advice, one should live every week like it's Shark Week. Well, this week is Shark Week, Discovery's annual tribute to those predators of the salty deep. While programming hours will be filled with fare like Shark City, Jaws Comes Home, and Great White Invasion, one of Shark Week's more local touches is out of commission this year.

Chompie needs to take Shark Week 2011 off, says Tammy Shea, Discovery's vice president of corporate communications. The absence of mascot of Discovery's signature series was first reported by AOL's Patch site for Silver Spring. The site also reported that in lieu of Chompie hovering above Veterans Plaza, an alternate, human-sized mascot might interact with pedestrians in downtown Silver Spring.

But that's just not the same as Chompie. Yesterday, on my personal blog, I collected a kind of Kübler-Ross cycle of tweets from Chompie's admirers. (Everyone spelled his name "Chompy," but Shea assured me today that "Chompie" is the correct spelling.)

"He's only been up twice in the past five years," Shea told Washington City Paper today, noting that Chompie was mounted for Shark Week in 2006 but did not reappear until last year. Chompie—composed of an inflatable head, tail, and two pectoral fins posted to the sides of the building along with a dorsal fin rising from the roof—needs the break after weathering the elements.

Chompie in his prime.

"He takes a beating," Shea says. "But no, he's not in a box under my desk."

Shark Week, which Discovery describes as the longest-running programming event in cable television, will mark its 25th edition in 2012, and the network hopes to get Chompie back in shape for the big anniversary.

"We're hoping we can get him up," Shea says.

Image of Chompie by Flickr userpaulidin using an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license.

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  • http://www.silverspringsingular.com Sligo

    Actually, it is "Chompy".

  • Benjamin R. Freed

    I brought this discrepancy up with Ms. Shea, who said she would check on it. She called back confirming that it is, in fact "Chompie."

  • Terry in Silver Spring

    Chompy is one of the few obvious ways that Discovery interacts with the community around it. I'm sure it's expensive to put up each year, but they should consider it an investment in local relations.

  • http://www.silverspringsingular.com/ Sligo

    It's Chompy. I named him that 5 years ago, but Discovery has appropriated and bastardized the name.

    The origin of the name Chompy:

    http://www.silverspringsingular.com/2006/08/smile-you-son-of-bitch.html

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