What's in a name? Money for Baltimore's mounted police unit

Blackie becomes Slurpee as 7-Eleven steps in as sponsor for a year

January 14, 2010|By Peter Hermann | peter.hermann@baltsun.com

Goodbye, Blackie. Hello, Slurpee.

Like the NASCAR speedsters festooned with ads, the Baltimore Police Department's horse unit is going the way of corporate sponsorship. The 7-Eleven chain donated $5,000 to keep the endangered Mounted Unit running, and the check gave the business naming rights.

And just like that, the purebred Percheron once known as Blackie is now named after the outlet's frozen beverage concoction. Slurpee joins the other horses of patrol: Butch, Buster, Binks, Barny and Bell.

The new name breaks up the symmetry of the Bs, but a department desperate to keep the 121-year-old mounted unit was not about to turn down money. Police solicited funds, and donors came up with $90,000 - enough to keep the horses trotting for another year.

Slurpee will be etched in the horse's saddle and will be on the stall, but the horse won't have to catch criminals wearing a 7-Eleven logo. But this marketing breakthrough has led some to speculate.

"If BGE wants to give us a donation and name a horse Zap, we'll consider it," said the Police Department's chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, only half-joking.

"We talked about putting ads on the sides of police cars and saying, 'This car chase brought to you by Nabisco,' " said Sgt. John Ambrose, who runs the mounted unit, fully joking.

Ambrose said the department had obtained Blackie late last year but had not paid for the horse and nearly had to return it before money started arriving to a nonprofit police foundation. The public can meet the newly minted Slurpee at 11 a.m. Friday at the grand opening of a 7-Eleven at Market Place downtown.

The store announced that there will be special snacks - apples and carrots - for the police horses and food specials for the customers - 11-cent Big Gulps.

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