They say that a leopard never changes its spots. Luckily for Princeton mascots, our tigers do change their stripes. After four years of appearances at University sporting events, the current mascot costumes will be retired at the end of this semester.
Associate Director of Athletics Eric Stein said the costumes are not regularly replaced. "It depends on the status of the suit," he said. "We don't need to replace them if they are holding up."
The decision to obtain new costumes was made in part by Associate Director of Annual Giving John Gore '68, who said, "the ones we have are getting pretty old and ratty."
Though the original intention was to have the new costumes ready by this semester, Gore said the project was delayed. He said the costumes would be ready by fall 1998 for the football season. "It is too bad we couldn't have a new one for the NCAAs," Gore added.
He said a South Carolina firm has been contracted to make the new outfits. He said it was very important that the mascot maintain the traditional look. "You don't want to get too cartoonish," he said. "You also don't want a costume that looks like a pair of seat covers."
The other important consideration, according to Gore, is comfort. "Right now, it is not pleasant in there," he said of the Tiger outfit. "It's a heavy costume, it's sweaty and it's smelly. It's a real workout to wear it."
Mascots Sirena Hsieh '00 and Dan Davenport '00 have experienced the outfit first hand. Hsieh said the current costume is often painful to wear. "Sometimes the helmet hurts my head and I get a bruise on my forehead from it."
Davenport, who wore the mascot costume at football, basketball and lacrosse games last year, said the Tiger gear is very restrictive. "I am totally oblivious to what's going on outside," he said.
Some students have commented that the mascot is looking a little patchy and worn these days. "For national TV purposes, the only thing more embarrassing than the band itself is the state of the current (Tiger) outfit," band member Andre Williams '00 said jokingly. "When you are close, you can tell it is pretty old and there are exposed spots where you can see the person inside."
The process of selecting a design and material for the costume is very involved, said Hsieh. "The athletics department was really receptive to my suggestions," she said. "They would call me and Dan in and show us the different designs and types of fur to ask us which ones we liked."
Tiger costumes are several thousand dollars each, Gore said, adding that funding for the new costumes is being provided almost exclusively by alumni and parent donations.