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October 8, 2004

Happy birthday, Cy!

ISU's young-at-heart mascot is 50 this month

by Anne Krapfl

Homecoming 2004 is a special one for mascot lovers. It has been 50 years since the original "Cy" was introduced to Cyclone fans at the 1954 Homecoming football game. Practice your crooning if you have tickets for Saturday's game against Texas A&M; the marching band has been heard rehearsing "Happy Birthday."

original cy

The original Cy and members of Iowa State's 1954 cheer squad.

(Click on photo to download image.)

Cy was born out of two decisions in the early 1950s; the first a consensus among Iowa State students --led by the pep council -- that you can't "stuff a cyclone" In the search for an alternate mascot, they opted for a cardinal bird, based on the school colors. "Cy" was submitted 17 times in a subsequent nationwide name contest and chosen as the cardinal's name.

Since his introduction, he has survived numerous redesigns and refittings, a plucking in 1961 at the hands of University of Missouri students, a car accident en route to the 1972 Liberty Bowl in Tennessee, and a series of kidnappings in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1966, Cy secretly wed Susie Snapper Hawk from the University of Iowa. Naturally, that union was doomed.

In 1975, the first woman donned what at the time was a 35-pound Cy costume. She was Betsy Thomas, a 6-foot-plus sophomore from Normal, Ill.

Cy's sidekick, the agile - some might say squirrelly - Clone was introduced to Cyclone fans at Hilton Coliseum in January 1989. An irrepressible dancer and a hit with children and students, Clone complemented the more stately Cy. The duo worked in tandem for several years.

In March 1995, when Iowa State introduced its new family of Cyclone logos at the Big 8 men's basketball tournament, qualities of "Cy" and "Clone" were merged into one mascot, the friendly Cy.

The university currently keeps three different size Cy costumes, each costing several thousand dollars. A mascot squad of four to six students (year-round) enables Cy to make public appearances more than 200 days each year.

Homecoming 2004

"Cyclone Legacy"

Friday, Oct. 8

  • 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Blitz Build (final day), community service for Story County Habitat for Humanity, 625 M Ave., Nevada
  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Picnic, "Wear Red, Get Fed," Memorial Union Terrace, free food to everyone wearing cardinal and gold
  • Noon-6 p.m., Terrace party, live band and refreshments, MU terrace
  • 1:30 p.m., Homecoming Honors and Awards Ceremony, ISU Alumni Association, Benton Auditorium; Scheman
  • 6 p.m., Pep Rally and "Yell Like Hell finals," south of the Campanile
  • 7:30-11 p.m., Lawn displays, "ExCYtement in the Streets," Greek neighborhood, begin at 140 Lynn Ave.
  • 7:30 p.m.-midnight, Gala, to observe ISU Alumni Association's 125th anniversary, black tie optional, $75 per person, Memorial Union
  • Midnight, mass Campaniling and fireworks, central campus

Saturday, Oct. 9

  • 3 p.m., Tailgate and silent auction, ISU Alumni Association, auction benefits student scholarships, *$15 non-members, Lot A-4, Iowa State Center parking lot
  • 6 p.m., Football, ISU vs. Texas A&M, fireworks after the game, $25-$35,Jack Trice Stadium

Today's Cy: striking at 50

(Click on photo to download image.)