Meet the columnist who voted as Big Bird

Columnist: “If you screw up this rental Big Bird suit you have to pay $640 to buy it”

(Photo credit: Ralph Barrera)


That’s Austin American-Statesman humor columnist John Kelso in the Big Bird suit (and at the right).

He checked first with the clerk’s office to make sure he wasn’t breaking any rules by voting in costume. They were fine with it, so he headed to his polling place last Friday.

Just putting the suit on back at the house was a challenge. I had to ask my wife, Kay, to help me put the thing on because I couldn’t figure out what went where. I’ve had less trouble with a tux. The bird suit is a three-piece, and if you put the pieces on in the wrong order, as I did, you end up being held prisoner in the suit. Also, there was no place to put my car keys.

His motivation:

I didn’t pull this stunt because I’m a big fan of Big Bird. Nope, this one is Mitt Romney’s fault. If the Mittster hadn’t said during one of the presidential debates that he loves Big Bird, not likes but loves, I might have rented a Daffy Duck or a Tweety Bird suit instead. I prefer those two birds to Big Bird.

But when Romney said he would cut off funding to PBS, Big Bird’s boss, I decided to go to bat for the yellow guy.

UPDATE: Here’s what Kelso tells Romenesko readers:

The 47 percenters seemed to think this was an amusing stunt, while the rest of ’em were chapped. I got the usual emails reminding me I’m a moron.

I’m glad I got the suit back on time in good shape. If you screw up this suit you have to pay $640 to buy it from Lucy in Disguise, the costume rental shop in Austin where I got it. You almost have to be a friend of Mitt Romney to afford a suit like this, right?

I went to some trouble to nail down the suit. The store only had one Big Bird outfit, and this event went down near Halloween. I’m glad I didn’t have to get into a fist fight over renting it.

Most of the people in line with me who thought this was funny were women, who dragged out their iPhones and started snapping photos. The guys prety much ignored me. But my favorite reaction was the person who asked the poll worker if the taxpayers were paying for my security.

My security was Big Edd O’Donnell, my good friend and the guy in the picture wearing the dark suit. His pay? I’m taking him to lunch. If we can figure out a way to get the taxpayers to pick up the tab, we’ll do it. Come to think of it, this is a business expense. So I guess I’ll turn the receipt in to the IRS.

Is this a great country or what? Thanks for making me momentarily famous and have a good one.

* Turns out, voting is for the birds (
* Another Kelso column I liked was about Murdoch and pies (
* Big Bird outfit is fine, but think twice about voting in an MIT shirt (