Posts filed under ‘Nittany Lion mascot’
It was a unique day at Penn State, indeed.
Wednesday was the annual Old Main Open House, a day to celebrate Penn State’s history. The event — which also featured free food, arts and crafts and guided tours of Old Main — was hosted by the Lion Ambassadors. When I stopped by at 3 p.m., there were about 75 visitors mulling around the area, taking in the partly sunny April afternoon.
As visitors waited for their guided tours — highlighted by a trip up to the Bell Tower for a scenic view of campus and downtown — they munched on free popcorn and frozen ices.
At 4, President Rodney Erickson opened his doors for a one-hour office hour session. Students could stop by to talk about anything — or just get to know the president.
Visitors also participated in tug-of-war, cider scrap, and push ball scrap — better known as scrap games. It’s OK if you don’t know what scrap game are. I needed a brush up on the term, as well. Between 1885-1916, freshmen and sophomores would duke it out for bragging rights in a series of competitive games. Among the visitors who seemed to enjoy the revival of the competitions was the Nittany Lion, who apparently participated in a few games of tug-of-war before I arrived.
This year’s Open House featured some new surprises — notably Boomer, the soon-to-be 6-year-old mini mule who hung out by the HUB and was impersonating Old Coaly, Penn State’s first mascot. She and her handler made the 3-hour, 45-minute drive from Butler County the morning of the event.
After I said hello to “Old Coaly,” a tour group walked by. What appeared to be the younger sibling of a prospective student turned to his father and asked, “Do they always have a mule hanging around here?”
Emily Kaplan, intern
We just wrapped up our annual Reunion Weekend here at University Park—members of the Class of 1960 were here to celebrate their 50th reunion, and grads from other class years came back as well. One of the activities I helped to staff was the All-Class Luncheon on Saturday at the Penn Stater Conference Center, and I thought I’d share a few photos I took at that event.
First we have a couple of returning grads posing for photos with the lion mascot…
…and then later the attendees discovered that the lion is none other than President Spanier, who, after taking the lion head off, gave some remarks about the state of things at Penn State.
A highlight of the lunch was a performance by some musical theatre students:
Among the attendees at the luncheon were not only the returning grads but also a group of Penn Staters who had just been recognized on Friday as Distinguished Alumni. Perhaps the most prominent of those was Richard Trumka ’71, president of the AFL-CIO.
The luncheon closed with a Penn State tradition: everyone singing the alma mater.
Afterward, many of the attendees piled onto buses for campus tours led by the Lion Ambassadors. The group below was especially lucky and got to ride on “Molly Trolley” instead of a school bus.
All in all, it seemed like everyone was pretty happy to be back.
Tina Hay, editor
As if the super-cool ESPN Magazine feature on the Nittany Lion weren’t enough, here comes another in-depth look at the mascot, Heart of the Lion. The documentary, which will premiere at 8 tonight on WPSU (Channel 3 in State College), traces the mascot’s history back to 1939 and follows eight students as they try out for the role. Jerry Sawyer, who produced the documentary for Penn State Public Broadcasting, says in this media release, “It was such a great experience to work on putting this show together, and a real treat to meet 15 of the former mascots and see how very humble and Penn State proud they all still are.”
The Alumni Association was the lead sponsor for the production of Heart of the Lion. If you miss the show tonight, the documentary will air again throughout the winter. Check your local listings for more information.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
This week’s issue of ESPN Magazine has a great piece on college mascots, centered almost entirely on our own Nittany Lion mascot. The writer, Larry Smith, followed current mascot Clint Gyory around during Homecoming weekend and wrote a terrific article, accompanied by excellent photos by John Loomis. He talks about the hilarious skit that got Gyory the job, about what kind of shape the lion suit is in after a football game (says Gyory: “It smells like death”), and about some of the rules of being a mascot (never stop moving, never talk, never take off your head).
A fact I didn’t know: The Lion suit is machine washable.
Here’s a little more:
The suit is stored in the Lion’s Den—also known as the basement of the house Clint shares with four roommates—next to a boom box, cases of ramen noodles and a freezer stuffed with chicken wings. Four backup Lion suits hang next to it, all stored out of sight. “You don’t let people see it, get in it, play with it,” he says. “You keep the suit safe.”
The article isn’t available online unless you pay to become an “ESPN Insider,” but you should be able to pick up a hard copy at your local newsstand. The date on the magazine is Nov. 30, so it should be available for a few more days, I think. It’s the one with Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson on the cover.
Tina Hay, editor
While the clerk was in the back, trying to find my stuff, I snapped a photo with my iPhone.
I posted the photo to my Facebook page and immediately got some fun responses, like:
“Somewhere, there is a very naked Nittany Lion….”
“Where is his HEAD???”
I also thought you might enjoy seeing a photo of the receipt. In the “quantity” and “description” sections, it simply says: “1 nittany lion.” And, yes, the head was supposed to be included. They’d better find it in time for kickoff on Sept. 5.
Tina Hay, editor
Nichola Gutgold ’99g, a faculty member at Penn State Lehigh Valley, sent along these photos from the moving of their lion shrine this morning. The whole Lehigh Valley campus is moving from Fogelsville to the town of Center Valley, and that meant moving the two-ton shrine and its six-ton base.
Here’s a shot of the shrine being hoisted up onto a truck for the 16-mile drive:
Here’s the crowd waiting for it in the rain at the new Center Valley location:
And here’s the Nittany Lion mascot, who drove the truck, posing with the newly relocated shrine.
The shrine is a replica of the University Park lion shrine sculpted by Heinz Warneke.
Tina Hay, editor
I thought I’d share a (very) small handful of photos I took at the All-Class Luncheon on Saturday—just one of dozens of activities that are part of our Traditional Reunion Weekend.
As the luncheon got underway, the Nittany Lion mascot waited outside the banquet hall at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, ready to make his appearance….
…and shortly after he got on stage, the lion took off his head and turned out to be none other than President Spanier, who made some welcoming remarks to the attendees.
After the luncheon, there were some giveaways, culminating in the big prize: a football-weekend package including two nights’ hotel stay and two seats in the Alumni Association’s skybox for the Iowa game. Here, Alumni Association president David Han ’88, ’05g assists while Todd Blackledge ’83 (who was honored as a Penn State Distinguished Alumnus this weekend) drew the winner.
The winner of the football-weekend package was Geraldine Valone ’58 of Buffalo, N.Y., and Blackledge went out into the crowd to congratulate her personally. Pretty cool.
The luncheon closed with some great stuff from members of the Penn State Glee Club:
And afterward, the 800 or so attendees headed outside and piled onto big blue school buses for campus tours.
As happened last year, there were so many people wanting to take the bus tours that we ran out of guides, so I got pressed into service. I didn’t have the standard “Lion Ambassadors Bus Tour Script”—I didn’t have any script. I just winged it. Heck, I’ve lived in State College for 33 years; I know the names of most of the campus buildings by now. And the alumni themselves helped me out with the names of the fraternities on Burrowes Road (not my long suit).
We all had a great time.
Tina Hay, editor