The CHL’s Muncie Squirrels have made no secret of their connection to the late television painter Bob Ross. Ross filmed his iconic “Joy of Painting” series in Muncie, and the team selected its name as a tribute to the painter’s fondness for raising baby squirrels.
The Squirrels were out of town on Thursday, but they opened up Ball Arena to host “Bob Ross Night.” Over 3,000 Squirrel fans and Muncie residents turned out to celebrate the life of the famous painter, and Squirrels GM Clay Charles described the event as “a tremendous success.”
It’s not the first Ross-themed promotion that the Squirrels have held; previously, they have given away T-shirts with Ross’s face on them, as well as stuffed squirrels modeled after Peapod, the painter’s best-known companion. This was the first time, however, that they had done an event that wasn’t tied to a game.
As fans entered the event, they received commemorative keychains shaped like Ross’s famous palette. A continuous loop of “Joy of Painting” episodes ran on the arena’s Jumbotron throughout the event, and people were invited to “sit as long as you like and enjoy Bob’s tranquil voice and his happy little trees and paintings.”
Those who wanted a more active experience could paint along with a Certified Bob Ross Instructor, who showed fans how to create one of the painter’s signature landscapes. In addition, several of Ross’s colleagues and former employees of WIPB-TV shared stories about the main and the experience of creating “Joy of Painting.”
“It was just a really wonderful, special experience,” said Muncie resident Jane Chivers, 38, who described herself as a lifelong fan of Ross. “It was like for one night, Bob was still with us, helping us find peace and happiness through art.”
The Squirrels offered fans who attended the event discounted tickets to a future game. Charles reported that “we’ve been flooded with calls” from people taking advantage of the offer.
The GM proclaimed himself “100% pleased” with how the event came out. He said that he hopes to make Bob Ross Night an annual event. He said that going forward, he planned to schedule the event on a day when the team was in Muncie so that the players could attend.
“I’d like to strengthen the links between Bob and the team,” said Charles. “Maybe some of our players could paint along; I bet our fans would love to see Kyler White or Dylan Alizarin try to paint some happy little trees.”