Ask Mayor Joseph Stahura why Whiting is the home of the new National Mascot Museum, and he simply says, “9.5.” No, he is not harking back to Dolly Parton’s famous “9 to 5” hit of the 80’s, and yes, he is of sound mind and spirit, embracing a museum dedicated to fun and furry mascots of sports teams. His reference is to the 9.5 million people who live within one-hour’s drive of Whiting. Contrast this with the 320,000 people within one hour’s drive of the former College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend. Then 9.5 becomes a “wow” marketing aspiration! Indeed, Joe has a special genius and a terrific team that has taken the City of Whiting on a journey from the difficult days of “the tax assessment revolution” when this sleepy community that fought change emerged into the bright sunshine of a re-invented City on the Lake. Add a nearly $25 million transformation by the RDA in 2 miles of Whiting lakefront that brought 40,000 cars to park on the site for a fee, none from Whiting because residents park free. But like twin LED headlights on a high end model, now add a world-class exhibit of mascots aimed at 12 year olds with educational components to attract teachers, and viola, Whiting has the makings of a year-round national destination. The museum is scheduled to open in 2018.