Today, I received an email from a Spaniard taking in Route 66 with Stabri, a stuffed doll that travels “hand to hand” around the globe, documented by photos and video posted on the Internet.
As of Sunday, Stabri and his companions were in Joplin, Mo. Here’s another photo of Stabri at Ambler’s Texaco Station in Dwight, Ill. You can see a few more photos from Route 66 on Stabri’s Flickr account.
An explanation of Stabri from one of its creators, via email:
Two European computer specialists, Mariano Munuera and Angel Téllez, decided to try how far the Internet links could reach. Then, to manage this idea, they invented the global doll Stabri, who travels all around the world from hand to hand. On the web site www.stabri.com, they organize his trips. So, his present bearer receives the proposals so that Stabri continues travelling. Besides, Stabri is in the social network where he talks with friends and fans in Facebook, Twitter, Tuenti, etc…
Stabri is more than a travelling doll, because wherever he goes he has a great impact on the Internet. The bearer takes Stabri to the most famous places of the country where they are and Stabri participates in bearer’s hobbies. In this way, the doll has lived experiences like playing instruments, visiting museums, practising sports, singing at Karaokes…even going paragliding!
This isn’t a new thing. The traveling gnome, which started as a prank with lawn gnomes, has been going for more than 25 years, to the point where Travelocity created its own Roaming Gnome mascot to get travelers involved and publicize its website on Twitter and Facebook.
And tons of variations exist out there. The Ace Jackalope blog contains hundreds of photos of a jackalope mascot photographed with landmarks and celebrities. Flat Stanley is another variation of the traveling figure, with him even having his own app. Over the years, I’ve seen a few Route 66 travelers adopt a figurine — a plastic Jesus, a stuffed animal, etc. — to include with their photographs.
The traveling mascot serves as a more whimsical and memorable way for travelers to document their journeys. It’s fun, and another small way to publicize Route 66’s attractions. But Stabri isn’t a fad. It’s most like a new variation on an old trend.
(Photos courtesy of Angel Teilez)