The name Roni was chosen by Lake Placid school children. It comes from the word “racoon” in Iroquoian, the language of the native people from the region of the State of New York and Lake Placid.
The racoon is a familiar animal from the mountainous region of the Adirondacks where Lake Placid is situated. The racoon's facial features and the black and white mask around his eyes are a nod to the sunglasses and hat worn by some of the competitors. The five colours of the Olympic rings can be found on some versions of Roni.
Don Moss, Capital Sports
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The Organising Committee also resorted to using real raccoons to promote the Games. Thus, two residents of Utica Zoo were taken to New York to take part in a show on national television.
Find out more about the Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Games on olympic.org