February 14, 2013

For 150th Anniversary, Cornell Unofficial Mascot Will Be Memorialized in Bronze

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During Homecoming Week­end 2015, Cornellians will have something new to celebrate: a statue commemorating the Univer­sity’s unofficial mascot, a bear cub. The statue will be built on the corner of Campus Road and Garden Avenue, near Teagle Hall, according to a University press release.

The statue will be unveiled in 2015, marking the 100th anniversary of both the opening of Schoellkopf Field and the first season a bear cub served as a mascot. The year also marks the University’s 150th anniversary celebration, or sesquicentennial.“It’s a great tradition, and to pay respect to it is pretty cool,” said Stephanie Ahart ’14, president of the Big Red Bears. Fundraising for the project, which will cost $250,000, began Jan. 19.According to John Foote ’74, author of Touchdown: The Story of the Cornell Bear, the first bear cub came to Cornell in 1915 because members of the football team wanted a sideline mascot.“Our team went to a game farm in New Hampshire and asked if they had an animal that would be suitable for a sideline mascot,” Foote said. “They got a little bear cub, probably less than a year old, and they named her Touchdown.”The bear cub was on the sidelines cheering the team on beginning with the first game of the 1915 season. The season was notable for the Big Red’s football team for other reasons as well: It was the first time it went undefeated, the first time it beat Harvard and the first time they won a national championship, according to Foote.“I think that little cub brought some extra magic to the equation,” Foote said.Three more Touchdown bear cubs graced Schoellkopf’s sidelines in subsequent years, with the third cub serving as mascot in 1939. The Touchdown bear cubs were known for their mischievious antics, according to the press release.Foote said the bear holds special significance to him because of his experiences as a Cornell cheerleader his senior year. At a Colgate-Cornell football game, he said, the mascot — a student wearing a bear costume — was harassed by a crowd of Colgate fans.“So we told the bear to run, and he couldn’t see anything in that bear suit,” Foote said. “He ran into the goal post and he knocked himself out cold, so we pulled off his head, and I knew the guy.”Foote’s knowledge of the history of Cornell’s unofficial mascot stems from what he described as “a wonderful two years” spent researching the story of the bear in The Cornell Daily Sun archives, he said. Brooklyn-based sculptor Brian Caverly was selected to build the bear cub statue, according to Foote. Graduate students in the Department of Landscape Architecture will design the landscape surrounding the statue.Funding for the statue has come from alumni and friends of the University, according to Foote.

Original Author: Julia Pascale