A 5-and-a-half-foot-tall dancing and rapping banana has become a common sight in Mastic Beach.
On most weekends, Melanie Clements, 13, can be spotted in a banana costume outside Mercedes Meat Market trying to drum up business for her Girl Scout troop. Dubbed the “rappin’ banana” by friends and passersby, Clements dances and freestyles while her fellow Girl Scouts “lay down a beat” by banging on a portable table and clapping in time, she said.
“The first time I did it, a lot of people just came by to watch and thought it was funny. Most of them would donate too,” Clements said.
So far the gimmick seems to be working, according to Clements’ mother, Michelle Clements, who is also the troop leader. Sales are up, thanks in part to her daughter’s antics, she said.
“They’re not cute and little like they were when they were 6, so it’s a little bit harder to sell stuff. They kind of have to think outside the box,” Michelle Clements said.
For Halloween a couple years ago, “while the other girls dressed up as princesses,” Clements went as a banana, her mother said. Last fall, thinking her troop needed a gimmick to sell nuts and candy, the teen dug the banana costume out of her closet.
“She’s always been kind of brazen. You know, no shame in the game,” Michelle Clements said, chuckling. “So when she told me, I just supported her and it turned out she was right. People came over right away and started buying or donating.”
She’s been dressing up ever since and is now hawking Thin Mints and Samoas. She also dons her yellow suit to collect donations during food drives and charity fundraisers.
Clements, an eighth grader at William Paca Middle School, said she has no plans to give up her rapping banana persona.
“I just really like that we get to help people out,” Clements said. “And that I get to be in a banana suit.”