Dewey the water drop and Wattson the light bulb have served proudly as SRP’s mascots for more than 20 years, delighting crowds at Valley events and teaching the public how to use water and energy wisely and safely.
The costumed characters have appeared in many forms, including stickers, magnets, hats, towels, 25-foot inflatables, children’s drawings, and even pogs, discs used in the game of the same name.
But there’s more to the duo than bright smiles, branding and educational messages.
Conception and construction
It all began in the early ’90s with a corporate safety goal: to keep kids safe around water and power.
An SRP safety committee was formed to find new ways to accomplish this goal, and the team arrived at the water drop and light bulb mascots – to represent SRP’s water and power utility services – along with their respective names: Dewey and Wattson.
Next, the mascot costumes had to be created. Enter SRP graphic designer Margaret Cook, who facilitated the design and construction of the Dewey and Wattson costumes and inflatables.
“We knew children would relate to this,” Cook said. “But we wanted something that adults would think was cool too.”
She worked with Hollywood costume fabricators to create the outfits and ensure safety for the people who would be wearing them. One design challenge the team faced was figuring out a way to feature SRP’s blue logo on Dewey’s blue body. The solution: Dewey’s white visor.
In addition to thematic, practical and safety factors, Cook and the team developed a deeper vision of the mascots.
“Wattson is more of an intellectual; he’s an engineer,” she said. “Dewey is much more into the environment. Birds would want to jump on his shoulders if he had any.”
In 1994, Dewey and Wattson came to life. The original costumes were a foam construction with a polyurethane coating and were fabricated by the same California company that created costumes for Harry and the Hendersons, a 1987 comedy starring John Lithgow about a family’s encounter with Bigfoot.
Rules and guidelines were established for the costumed characters — such as no touching between the water drop and the light bulb — and on Aug. 5, 1994, Dewey and Wattson were introduced to thousands during the halftime show of an Arizona Cardinals preseason football game at Sun Devil Stadium.
“Even though they’ve never shook hands (power and water don’t mix), they’re the best of friends,” Cook said.
In 2001, the original costumes were replaced with new versions, designed to be lighter and less cumbersome. These partially inflatable fleece costumes were fabricated by a company in Michigan that also created the Pillsbury Doughboy costume.
Six years later, in 2007, a third iteration was created to allow the mascots to participate in more activities and events. These costumes were composed of a stretchy fabric supported by a minimal frame. They were designed to be more flexible and lightweight. Unfortunately, they were too flexible. They lost their shape easily and were replaced with an improved design in the next two years.
The Dewey and Wattson costumes you see today were fabricated in 2009 and are totally inflated costumes made of vinyl.
Dewey was changed from royal blue to aqua blue to stand apart from his friend “Misty,” the royal blue water drop mascot of the City of Peoria’s Water Conservation Department. Wattson made the energy-efficient transition to a compact fluorescent light bulb.
When the mascots appear at events, they’re accompanied by other SRP employees who serve as handlers, since it can be difficult to navigate crowds and terrain while wearing the costumes.
And because Dewey and Wattson don’t speak or hold objects, the handlers also serve to communicate with event attendees and hand out educational materials.