The Nittany Lion’s Extra Props
In our latest cover story [“Props to the Lion,” p. 40] we pored over two-dozen props and accessories of the Penn State mascot. There were a few more items that we couldn’t quite fit into the feature, and because their stories are simply way too fun to leave out, here they are.
Arguably the biggest prop of the, well, lion’s share is the Michigan State Spartan chariot. Michael Valania ’15 and his roommate built it by collecting pallet boards from loading docks around campus. Because of its size, it’s parked in the cheerleading locker room at Beaver Stadium.
The Lions have also been known to wear special gear for wet weather. “I remember being upset during rainy games because it made it so much harder to move around,” says James Sheep ’08. “A wet lion suit adds like 25-30 pounds—it feels super heavy. After the game, I’d take off the suit and wring all of the water out of it.” Sheep did have a little fun with the forecast at one game, stepping out on the field in a ducky inner tube and an umbrella hat—the latter of which the current Lion wore in this year’s rainy game against the University of Buffalo.
Sometimes, ribbons are pinned onto the mascot to support a cause, like a gold one during the annual football game that supports THON, pink at various sporting events during breast cancer awareness month, and blue for the blue-outs at Beaver Stadium in the fight against child abuse.
But perhaps the biggest treasure that’s passed down to the new Nittany Lion is some heeded advice. Says Rob Nellis ’13: “Enjoy it. Because when you’re serious about it, you can get caught up in the stress of things. And the more you actually enjoy it, the better reaction from the crowd.”
In digging through the stash of props, we did come across three items that we still don’t know the stories behind: Some slack of rope, a blue Hawaiian shirt, and this somewhat scary Brutus Buckeye mask, which is actually made from the skin of an old soccer ball. Any ideas?
Amy Downey, senior editor