Sunday, April 21, 2013

The mystique of Ralphie

[Image: 640px-RalphieV.jpg]

The mystique of Ralphie

October 28, 2030

Weekly Report Posted: December 21, 2012 00:22

Ralphie the Buffalo is the name of the live mascot of the University of Colorado Buffaloes. Ralphie has been called one of the best live mascots in sports, and she is often erroneously labeled male.
The team of "Ralphie Handlers," who are varsity student-athletes, run Ralphie around Folsom Field, the University of Colorado's football field, in a horse shoe pattern before each half of each home game. It takes five Ralphie Handlers to run her around the field: two up front on each side to steer her around the field, two in the back on each side to help guide her, and one in far back to control her speed, called the "loop" position. Ralphie can reach speeds of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h). Female bison are used because they are smaller and less aggressive, as well as for insurance reasons, although Ralphie has knocked over her handlers on more than one occasion. Because of this, whether or not Ralphie runs is at the sole discretion of her handlers, and her run may be canceled if she is unusually nervous or upset.
Ralphie V (born October 2007) was introduced to the public on November 17, 2007 in a major public event called "Ralphie's Salute to a New Era." According to CU officials, Ralphie V will not take over all Ralphie duties immediately; both Ralphie IV and V will share duties as long as Ralphie IV remains healthy. Ralphie IV will retain duties that require a relatively sedate and experienced bison while Ralphie V will take over the most physically strenuous duties.
Like her predecessor, Ralphie V was donated to Colorado by Ted Turner. She was born in October 2006 at the Vermejo Park Ranch in northern New Mexico and was named "Blackout." She began training at the age of two months to prepare her to take the field. When she was introduced at the "Ralphie's Salute to a New Era" event she weighed in at 500 pounds (227 kg). Ralphie V runs faster than Ralphie IV and still somewhat wild, according to handlers, and will be larger than the past Ralphies. Her debut game came against Eastern Washington on September, 6th 2008, Colorado won 31-24.
Ralphie V took the field with the football team for the first time at the spring game on April 19, 2008. In her pre-game run Ralphie ran perfectly, but slipped out of her harness at the very start of the halftime run, bumping, but not trampling, one handler and shedding all but one of her other handlers. Zeb Kopasz was the only handler to hold on to her. They were able to get her under control on the far 25-yard line and return her to her trailer.
She rarely travels to away games—bowl games excluded—and only when permitted by the rules of the host stadium. Ralphie IV traveled to the September 23, 2006 game against the Georgia Bulldogs along with an ESPN producer and cameraman who documented the trip and aired a special on that weekend's College Gameday. She also traveled to the 2005 Champs Sports Bowl.
She wears a custom-made banner that reads "GO CU" on one side, and "Beat [the opposing team]" on the other side with the CU Logo, such as "Beat CSU." Ralphie travels to games and appearances in a black custom stock trailer emblazoned with her name in gold. Ralphie and her trailer are pulled though the University Hill neighborhood before games on her way to the stadium.
Ralphie is held in a secret location so that she will not be harassed or harmed by the public, keeping her and the public safe from harm.
A tradition of the Ralphie Handler Team is to eat a large team breakfast or lunch at a local diner prior to game-day events.

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