UW-River Falls mascot, once deemed scary, brings fun to campus events
You see him on Saturdays at Ramer Field and you see him roaming the UW-River Falls campus. Freddy Falcon brings a positive attitude and he puts pep in people’s step no matter if it is a UWRF football game or if it is a normal Tuesday afternoon.
While the 5,958 students and the faculty and staff today can call themselves Falcons, it has not always been the case. In the fall of 1930, the Student Voice held a contest to give the athletic teams a name, and student-athlete Harry Roese won the contest by coming up with a Falcon, according to de facto Freddy Falcon historian and Director of Alumni Relations Dan McGinty.
“Harry Roese was on the football team and his idea, the Falcons, won him the prize of $3,” McGinty said. “The name Falcons won 433 out of the 547 total votes.”
Since its debut in 1930, the Falcon as undergone four transformations, but the eight characteristics that made the Falcon the winner in 1930 have not been altered.
“The name Falcon was chosen because the falcon designates swiftness in flight, leadership, accuracy, fearlessness, intelligence, sportsmanship, nobleness and strength,” McGinty said.
The concept of Freddy Falcon was introduced in 1970, 40 years after the Falcon was introduced to UWRF. One decade later, Student Senate purchased the first Freddy Falcon suit for $600, but it was changed later due to an unusual reason.
“The Freddy Falcon suit that was purchased in 1980 had to be adjusted because it scared some people, and UWRF couldn’t have a mascot that scared people,” McGinty said. “The current Freddy Falcon was sketched by Jim Krom in 1987.”
After Krom sketched the current version of Freddy Falcon, Barry Pinske carved a wood statue of Freddy out of 150-year-old Scotch pine. The statue was placed on the UWRF campus, and was later donated to former Chancellor Don Betz by the students, according to McGinty. The statue is now located in the University Center
Many people wear the Freddy Falcon outfit, but according to McGinty, the individuals play the role of Freddy Falcon are not allowed to talk while wearing the suit and they are not supposed to reveal their identity.
As the director of alumni relations, McGinty is in charge of setting up more than 60 alumni events per year. McGinty said that Freddy Falcon makes an appearance at some of the alumni events like the St. Paul Saints baseball game on Saturday, June 25. During those events, people who work in the University Advancement department wear Freddy Falcon.
Susan Walker, manager of University Communications and Marketing, said her office takes reservations for Freddy Falcon. For UWRF student organizations, faculty and staff, the Freddy Falcon suit is available to be reserved for events. For hot and steamy days, an ice vest is available to keep the wearer cool.