What’s brown, slow and irresistibly cute? A sloth, of course. And if you’ve been around downtown Charleston lately, you’ve probably seen one. If you ran the Cooper River Bridge Run this spring, you might have seen a passel of them. Yes, the Charleston Sloths are staging an invasion. Admittedly, it’s happening at a glacial pace, but it’s definitely happening. It’s the latest Chucktown craze.
The invasion of the sloths, who shall remain anonymous, started taking shape a few weeks before the annual Cooper River Bridge Run when a cadre of locals – some of them College alumni – decided to have a little fun with the event. One of the sloths – let’s call him Max – says these dozen co-workers, friends and spouses initially wanted to wear a Tyrannosaurus rex costume for the run, but that didn’t pan out. “We’re not serious runners, and most of us are pretty slow,” he explains, “so, we asked ourselves, what else is slow? That’s how we landed on the idea of the sloth.”
The sloths became an instant Internet sensation during the Bridge Run. Max and company posted videos of themselves on the Web “slothing” along the racecourse and a few of those clips went viral. “We had one of our videos get close to 250,000 views that day,” he says.
Another sloth – we’ll call him Scott – says the social media outreach was accidental. “We tested our costumes one afternoon before the Bridge Run. We simply wanted to see how the masks and claws worked while walking around town near our office, but our appearance garnered so much attention that we decided the whole thing was ripe for a promotional campaign. So, a day or so later, four of us got into costume and hung out at Marion Square climbing trees and just generally slothing. A bunch of people stopped to watch us and one guy took a picture. We yelled out our Twitter handle and he tagged us. That’s when the media campaign took off.”
That’s right, you can check out the sloths on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and Instagram. So, what’s it like to be a sloth? According to Scott, “when you put on the mask, the first few minutes are very disorienting, so you have to get into the right mindset. Then, when everyone starts reacting to it, the positive reinforcement is great. People just evidently love sloths and they’re really appreciative. Everyone encourages us and wants us to pose for photos. Seeing people smile like that, it’s a huge charge for us.”
In the proper parlance, a group of sloths is called a “bed,” and this bed of sloths has developed a favorite pastime – photobombing. “That’s been pretty much accidental as well,”Scott says. “While we were taking some photos around campus one day, we rolled through the Cistern Yard just as one of the tour groups was finishing up. We sort of stood in the back, behind all the parents and students. When the tour leader finished her spiel, we made our move past the group toward the exit gate. Right away, parents started commenting. ‘What’s that, does that happen all the time?’ The tour guide was dumbfounded, but we ended up in more than a couple of selfies, I’m sure.”
If you want to catch the Charleston Sloths, just be patient. They’re ready to make their next move, but it’s likely to take a while.