Erik Reed learned to dance to the beat of cumbia while growing up in Mexico and watching adults at family gatherings. Now, Reed shows off his dance moves in an oversized wildcat costume at local events for Tucson Electric Power.

For about a decade, the Apprentice Designer has volunteered his time to serve as PowerCAT, the mascot for the company’s Community Action Team volunteers. As part of his duties, the feline fave regularly competes in dance contests against other local mascots, usually winning top honors.

This week, Reed was recognized for his community service at the Southern Arizona Volunteer Management Association’s awards ceremony. As a sponsor of the Jan. 16 breakfast, TEP selected Reed as the company’s representative to receive the honor.

Reed started volunteering as PowerCAT as a backup to Curtis Brooks, a former employee who came up with the idea for the mascot. PowerCAT is celebrating its 25th birthday this year.

Reed’s first appearance as PowerCAT came at Downtown Tucson’s Parade of Lights in 2010 in a bucket truck. Now, he attends about two events a month as the main PowerCat.

“It’s kind of cool when little kids run up and see the mascot,” Erik said. “Most of them want hugs and get pictures with him. Even grown-ups, their faces light up. It’s pretty neat.”

Along with posing for pictures and hugging patrons, Reed often breaks out with the sprinkler dance or other moves at events.

Reed has no formal training, but instead, does what comes naturally. Although he was nervous at the first dance-off at Hi Corbett Field, fans loved it when he did the robot to a slow Michael Jackson song that was playing.

At one recent United Way campaign kickoff, he went up against four or so local mascots where a screen monitor was in the front. He was able to see himself “making a fool of myself” during the hip-hop song “Teach Me How to Dougie.”

Reed has no plans to stop being PowerCAT – or to stop dancing.

View a video of Reed as PowerCAT at the 2016 United Way kickoff.

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