Mommy, that Mascot Scares Me! Purdue Pete to Get Friendly Face Lift
Purdue Pete, Purdue University's unofficial mascot, is getting a change of face. Why? It seems children are frightened of him.
The long time sports fan appears at many of the Boilermakers' events, including all football games and home basketball games, as well as some other sports, according to Wikipedia. The Big 10 school's official mascot, the Boilermaker Special, is a locomotive, in honor of Purdue's history as a former leader in railway technology research.
David McGaughey, who donned the Purdue Pete costume [including a fiberglass head, shoulder pads and giant hammer] in the early 1980s, tells the Indianapolis Star that when dressed as Pete, it was important to "approach kids very cautiously" and that while some kids "just had big smiles and could not wait to touch you ... others did have fear in their eyes."
Some fans have expressed concern about Pete's impending changes, which are currently in the design phase.
"We don't want him to be too cute and too pretty -- we're trying to convey that we're tough," 61-year-old Sherman Winski tells the Star, adding, "He's a Boilermaker, after all. And we're not pansies."
When Purdue did a survey of fans four years ago, about 60 percent said they would prefer Pete keep his current look, according to the Star. Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke says Pete's appearance "will always be a mix of serious and humor," and reassures Boilermaker fans that he will keep his hammer.
The newspaper reports this is not the first time Purdue Pete has gone under the mascot knife. Pete's head has morphed from a papier-mâché and chicken-wire creation into the sometimes frightening fiberglass face fans see today. That face is not only disliked by certain children -- in 2007, the now inactive Web site Drivl ranked Purdue Pete as the seventh Worst College Mascot [a copy of the page, The Worst NCAA D-I College Mascots, can be viewed on archive.org.]
Here's a video of Purdue Pete from YouTube. The description: "Purdue Pete is attacked by a mysterious gorilla wearing a Northwestern cape. Pete gets him back."
And this video looks at some of the young men who don the Purdue Pete uniform, helping to get the crowds excited.
Related: Quiznos Mascot Fined After Police Mistake Dance for Suicide Attempt
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.