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The Ralphie program will officially welcome a new buffalo to CU at a special event this Saturday.
Ralphie V will be making her debut at “Ralphie’s Salute to a New Era,” where CU fans will be able to meet both Ralphies and get a glimpse of CU’s new indoor practice bubble.
“She won’t be at the Nebraska game, so this is really the only chance for the public to see Ralphie V,” said Gail Pederson who oversees the Ralphie program for the CU athletic department.
While it was rumored that Ralphie V might take over as CU’s live mascot at the game against Nebraska, Pederson says Ralphie IV will not be retiring that soon.
“Ralphie IV might still run next year,” Pederson said. “They will both be an equal part of the program.”
Both buffaloes will share the duties that go along with being Ralphie, including public appearances and running onto the field in front of the football team at home games.
Ralphie IV has been CU’s live mascot since 1998, which is why the athletic department is currently making preparations for a new buffalo to take over. Pederson said they want to start training a new buffalo now before Ralphie IV passes away.
“We’ve never retired a Ralphie before,” Pederson said. “They have all died in the past, so we want to have a replacement ready when that happens.”
Despite their male names, the buffaloes trained in the Ralphie program are always female.
“The males are much, much larger and harder to control than the females,” Pederson said.
Pederson said the Athletic Department expects thousands of fans to come out to see the new buffalo because it is such an integral part of CU spirit. They created Saturday’s event as a way to celebrate the history and unique nature of the Ralphie program.
“The buffalo is an American icon to start with, especially of the American West,” associate athletic director Dave Plati said. “It’s pretty amazing to see a 1,300-pound buffalo lumbering down the field just looking at the people running alongside her who are hanging on for dear life.”
Head football coach Dan Hawkins said he was already an admirer of the Ralphie program before his time with the Buffs.
“You always knew about the buffalo when Colorado was playing,” Hawkins said. “I always thought that was really cool.”
Hawkins said Ralphie is part of what makes CU stand out from the crowd.
“There’s so many fabrics within college football that are so awesome, like mascots and bands,” he said. “But there are very few schools with mascots where you might have trouble just getting control of them on the field.”
Plati said the state of Colorado has some of the best live mascot programs in the country, including the falcon at the Air Force Academy and the ram at Colorado State.
“Ralphie is consistently voted as one of the best mascots in the country for a reason,” Plati said. “You really don’t see anything else like it in the whole nation.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Amanda Walck at email@example.com