Purdue Pete is the the secondary mascot of the Purdue Boilermakers. Even though he isn’t the true mascot of the Purdue football team most people view him as the main mascot. For those people who don’t know the real mascot of the Purdue Boilermakers is the Boilermaker Special. The Boilermaker Special is not the usual mascot which involves an animal or a student in an animated suit, it actually is a small locomotive that is driven by a student during home games
The mascot Purdue Pete first made his appearance at the Purdue Bookstore in 1940. The bookstore used Purdue Pete to sell apparel to students and Purdue fans. His role in Purdue tradition changed in 1956 when he was actually given a physical form instead of being a poster display, during this year Purdue Pete attended a school pep rally. The students at the pep rally liked the idea of Purdue Pete as a secondary mascot so much that they wanted him to attend more events such as Purdue football games.
Originally Purdue Pete’s head was made out of paper-mâché posted onto a chicken wire frame. This caused the individual wearing the costume to be at a disadvantage because it would extremely affect the wearers ability to move fluidly, which in turn made him unable to perform tricks or stunts for the fans. Due to the inconvenience the head was changed into fiberglass that had to be supported by a harness by the wearer. This was also inconvenient because the fiberglass head also limited Purdue Pete’s movements.The newest head of Pete was designed and created by students in the Aeronautical Engineering Technology department, which gives Purdue Pete the ability to move.
Over the years Purdue Pete has gone over many redesigns which have drawn negative and positive reactions from the Purdue faithful. In 2008 the hammer of Purdue Pete which symbolized the toughness and strength it takes to be a Boilermaker was taken from him. This created fans and boosters to break out in outrage, some boosters even stopped giving money to the John Purdue Club due to this redesign of Purdue Pete. This reaction caused the school to redesign to the Purdue Pete that we know in the present in 2011.
“I like the current Purdue Pete because he isn’t the usual mascot,” said safety for the Purdue football team Antonio Blackmon. “He allows our school to stand out from all the other schools in the nation.”
Personally growing up as a child in Tallahassee I would watch Purdue football games and I never really liked Purdue Pete because he was kinda weird and scary. Later on in my life I realized I was not the only small child who felt that way torwards Purdue Pete. Now that I go to Purdue I have grown an appreciation for Purdue Pete because now I realize that he is a truly unique mascot.
A secret of Purdue Pete is that more than one person wears the costume. At the beginning of every year a tryout is held to see what four will wear the Purdue Pete costume during the season. To become Purdue Pete one has to be athletic and have a great sense of humor.
“Being Purdue Pete is an honor because being apart of Purdue tradition is something special and near and dear to my heart,” said Purdue Pete Kevin Wissler.