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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Aug. 10, 2006

A summer of Cy

by Erin Rosacker

It's 100 degrees and you're heading outside. You're wearing a T-shirt and shorts. But instead of sunscreen, you've donned a fuzzy red costume with an enormous head and ungainly big feet. Welcome to the world of Cy.

This summer, Cy kept his social calendar full with appearances from The Knoll to Council Bluffs. From May through August, the lovable mascot will have attended six weddings. He even has a sport coat for formal events, purchased from a big and tall store.

Cy poses with a Ragbrai participant

Cy mugs with alumna Laura Schulte during the RAGBRAI stop in Redfield. Photo by Tiffany DeWitte.

Athletics owns three mascot outfits, while admissions and trademark licensing each have its own costume. That's a lot of Cy -- no pun intended -- clones making appearances.

Kris Tigges, secretary in athletics marketing, coordinates requests for Cy's gigs with mascot squad captain Scott Coleman, a senior in computer engineering. There are seven members of the squad handling the duties for athletics and trademark licensing appearances, while admissions handles its own.

According to Phil Caffrey, associate director of admissions, their Cy sticks close to home in the summer months but travels to large recruiting events throughout the country during the academic year. In his admissions role, Cy can be spotted at the resource fair during orientation, the Experience Iowa State programs in July, and Destination Iowa State events in August. Caffrey also says Cy could be taking part in "The Scene" at Jordan Creek Town Center, a back to school event sponsored by ISU.

Leesha Zimmerman, program coordinator in trademark licensing, said their Cy costume is used sparingly in the summer. Cy made a trip to Redfield, to hand out goodies during a RAGBRAI stop and will roost in the Iowa State exhibit at the state fair Aug. 11 and Aug. 18. This fall, Cy will resume campus and community visits on "CyDay" as a part of the "Eye on Cy" campaign.

Dry cleaning discounts

Usually the suits are worn about twice before they are taken to the dry cleaner, but that depends on a couple of factors. If there are multiple appearances scheduled closely together, the timing prohibits a cleaning. If the weather is particularly hot, that suit may need a quicker freshening up.

Costume parts differ slightly depending on the year they were made. The head is mounted on a helmet, maybe with a vent fan. An optional cooling vest can be chilled in advance. A hoop-skirt type of attachment or padded garment is worn under the main suit to keep Cy bulked up despite the frame of the person inside. The feet are either boots or separate pieces that Velcro around the wearer's shoes. No one can guess the weight of the costume; it depends on whom you ask.

"It's not as bad as you might think," Coleman said. "The older ones would weigh a lot, but the new ones distribute (the weight) throughout your body."

Tigges estimates that about 90 percent of requests for Cy are granted, with availability and cost as the top detractors. Aside from a handful of charity jobs and a multitude of athletics events, Cy's moonlighting rates are $75 per hour for campus appearances and $200 per hour for public engagements, plus mileage. His datebook fills up fast, so at least four weeks notice is needed.


Cy keeps a busy summer schedule, showing up at a multitude of events ranging from charity fund-raisers to weddings.