Banana Sam’s joy appeals to Bulldogs

BUSINESS+CARD+IN+HAND%3A+Sam+Frederick+refers+to+himself+as+the+Chief+Banana+Officer.

Lauren Bogard

BUSINESS CARD IN HAND: Sam Frederick refers to himself as the “Chief Banana Officer.”

By Mazzy Warren, James Bowie High School

Ziipppp.

Junior Sam Frederick is ready. He steps into the school building, another Friday down. As he walks down the halls, students give him smiles and fist-bumps; people even shout out his nickname, “Banana Sam!”

Frederick — or rather, Banana Sam — looks forward to every Friday, where, since the superhero spirit day in October, he dresses up as a banana to spread positivity around the school.

“What I really like about it is the fact that I can just walk around the school and get random high fives and compliments,” Banana Sam said. “People cheer at me and I see people smile because it’s something that anybody could join in on, to enjoy this random person in a banana suit at school.”

Every Friday since he started in October, Banana Sam has attended school in his banana suit in an attempt to be “passively ridiculous.” He even dressed up on the Friday during Thanksgiving break, so he hasn’t missed a day since he started this tradition.

“I just put [the costume] over the normal clothes I usually wear to school,” Banana Sam said. “Sometimes I take pictures with people, and usually I post on Instagram, reminding people that it’s banana Friday. Otherwise, it’s a completely normal school day.”

The costume — a bright yellow suit sporting flaps that can be zipped down to “unpeel” him — was an impulse purchase on Amazon.

“I bought it because I had just earned an allowance and I felt like I wanted to buy something,” Banana Sam said. “So I thought, ‘what is something that would be fun to buy?’ and I got the banana costume. When superhero day came around for [spirit] day, I decided to wear it because I thought it would be funny. Then I wore it the next week, and then the week after that, and then I kept doing it.”

Many believe he’s had a positive impact on Bowie’s community. One student, sophomore Lydia Mikkelsen, thinks it adds more light to student’s Fridays.

“Imagine someone’s having a really bad day at school, and then they see some guy walking around in a banana costume and saying good morning to [them],” Mikkelsen said. “That has to be just so cool and make [them] feel a little bit better.”

Even staff believe he’s a positive person to have around the school. One of his teachers, mathematics instructor Alexandria Frossard, anticipates Fridays with Banana Sam in her class, as she believes it’s an entertaining break in everyday school routine.

“I think his classmates really look forward to it,” Frossard said. “They enjoy having that comedic relief, because it’s not just a Friday, it’s a Banana Friday! That’s something we can all enjoy.”

He runs an Instagram account, @banana_sam1, where he shares photos of fanart, selfies taken with other students, and wishes his followers happy Banana Fridays. His bio also reminds his followers to mark their calendars every Friday for Banana Friday.

“[The account] is getting a lot of traction, and he’s very proud of it,” Frossard said. “He came up to me and said, ‘I started a thing.’ Now I think it has over 100 followers and he’s only been running it for a couple of weeks.”

He found inspiration to begin Banana Fridays from his mother, a contract lawyer who owns and manages her own brand and law firm.

“Her whole brand is built on her being a positive person,” Banana Sam said. “So when I started doing Banana Sam Fridays, I thought it’d be fun to be like her and try to spread a positive message.”

Banana Sam’s reach extends even farther than Bowie. During the Bowie girl’s basketball tournament on Friday, November 12, Banana Sam was recognized by students from different schools, who called his name out when they saw him.

“Even outside of Bowie, people have seen the Banana Sam Instagram account, so they know him without even knowing him,” Frossard said. 

The costume is not only a way to make people smile, but it’s also something he’s planning on including in his college applications. But Frossard believes that it’s not just a good thing for the school or for his college applications, but it’s also a good thing for himself. He uses the time between Banana Fridays to “recharge” his social battery so he can let out all of his energy at once on Fridays.

“Sam the person is a little bit more quiet and reserved,” Frossard said. “The costume lets him be more social and more outgoing, without that fear of ‘I’m just another person’, instead he gets to be Banana Sam.”

As of now, Banana Fridays are an ongoing tradition at Bowie. This custom has impacted the school’s staff and students, who are excited to know they might see Banana Sam on upcoming Fridays.

“Fridays are always nice when he’s in your class, and it’s just really fun because it’s so random that someone would wear a banana costume to school,” Mikkelsen said. “It 100% makes others happy, it’s always something to look forward to and talk about. It just spreads positivity.”

This story was originally published on The Dispatch on December 29, 2021.