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Orem mascot holding birthday food drive this Saturday

By Genelle Pugmire - | Dec 6, 2022

Courtesy Orem city

The promotional poster for Orem's Mero Break the (Food) Bank event.

Orem is holding two events in one this Saturday with the Mero Birthday Food Drive at the Orem Fitness Center.

Mero the Mammoth, Orem’s mascot, is celebrating his birthday with a party. Resident can bring non-perishable food to the fitness center and get free admission. The food bank is in need of canned proteins, fruit cups, breakfast cereal and seasonings like salt, pepper, cinnamon and seasoning packets, but any type of non-perishable food is welcome.

Mero was selected as the official city mascot to honor the real-life Mero the mammoth, who was uncovered 89 years ago.

“The original flesh and bone, (mostly bone), Mero the Mammoth was discovered in 1937 by Daniel Thomas in his front yard while digging a trench to connect to the city’s water system. That property is now the Paper Store on south State Street,” said Pete Wolfley, Orem IT manager and spokesperson.

It is anticipated, if digging in the right place, paleontologists could find more bones of the mammoth dating back to the pre-Colombian era, about 3,500 years ago or earlier.

Courtesy Orem city

The Orem home where the mammoth bones were found.

According to National Geographic, woolly mammoths roamed the cold tundra of Europe Asia, and North America from about 300,000 years ago up until about 10,000 years ago.

Thomas found a tooth and called in professionals from the University of Utah who did a full excavation at the time, which resulted in a complete skeleton of a mammoth that lived in the Great Basin, probably on the shores of Lake Bonneville thousands of years ago.

These huge grandparents of today’s African elephant had shoulders that stood about 12 feet high or higher. Mammoths are believed to have consumed over 700 pounds of food a day, so gathering massive amounts of food is something Mero can support, city officials believe.

“We’ve adopted the mammoth as our city mascot as a way to show love and appreciation for our city’s rich history,” Wolfley said. “Finding such a paleontological treasure in our community is one of the most unique things about Orem and we wanted to celebrate that. Plus, the kids just love Mero and it makes city events way more special when the original Orem resident shows up.”

In honor of the anniversary of Mero’s discovery, Orem is partnering with Community Action Services and Food Bank to build up their supplies for the holidays and into winter. The food bank has about half the food it needs going at the moment. Not only will your donation help the community, but it will also get you in for free at the Orem Family Fitness Center on Saturday.

Residents can bring their donations to the Orem Family Friendship Center anytime between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Saturday. One donation item will equal one free entry into the rec center, so a family of four would need to bring four donation items.

“We hope that we can take a mammoth-sized bite out of hunger in our community this season,” Wolfley added.

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