By Kate Thayer
7:35 AM CDT, April 7, 2014
A man who dresses up in a brown bear costume and roams Wrigleyville on game days says a bar scuffle caught on video this weekend shows just the tail end of things.
The clip posted on YouTube Saturday shows a bar patron yank the head off the bear costume and the unmasked man retaliate with a punch.
Patrick Weier, who was inside the unsanctioned outfit, told the Tribune Sunday that he threw his suddenly viral punch after drunk bar patrons at the John Barleycorn bar at 3524 N. Clark St. provoked him and caused him to reach his breaking point. The goading doesn’t show up on the video.
Weier, who lives near Wrigley Field and turns 36 on Monday, is one of three guys who put on the costume to pose with tourists and Cubs fans in the hopes of getting a tip. Think a North Side version of the eccentric statue man painted in silver from head to toe in River North or the faux Spider-men and Batmen in Times Square.
Billy Cub is the brainchild of John Paul Weier, 32, who said he has been wearing the costume the past seven years in the hopes of becoming an official team mascot. The younger Weier said Cubs officials have asked him to stop appearing in costume. The team introduced a much-maligned official mascot in January called Clark the Cub.
The Weiers have declined to stop appearing, and the brothers were back in Wrigleyville Sunday before the Cubs-Phillies game, though only Patrick Weier was in costume, posing for photos.
Patrick Weier said he was visiting patrons at the bar when a man shoved him and pushed him down. Weier said he then got back up and returned to taking photos with a group. The man continued to provoke him and tried to take the small cooler where he carries his tips, and eventually grabbed the bear head off his costume, Weier said.
“He assaulted me first,” Patrick Weier said.
John Paul Weier said he’s not pleased with the video, but understands his brother’s actions.
“People have their breaking points,” he said. “Obviously this is not a good thing. You never want anything like this to happen.”
The Billy Cubs often are a target, the brothers said, and it’s not the first time a bar patron has tried to provoke them.
John Barleycorn manager Al Mendoza declined comment Sunday. Chicago police said they didn’t get a call to the Barleycorn address on Saturday.
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