‘Fear the trees!’: The Hullabaloo’s picks for weirdest mascots in sports

Jude Papillion, Contributing Reporter

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Mascots have been a part of the gameday experience for decades, and these sometimes-furry creatures are beloved by the fans of the teams they symbolize and are used to rally their teams to victory. That has not, however, stopped universities from picking some extremely strange critters to represent their teams. Here is The Hullabaloo’s round-up of the strangest team mascots.

Delta State University – Okra

The unofficial nickname of Delta State University is the Fighting Okra, and its mascot is exactly what you would expect it to be: a giant stuffed okra. After students became tired of the school’s Statesmen nickname, they adopted the Fighting Okra around 1990, which looks similar to Pickle Rick from “Rick and Morty” wearing boxing gloves. 

Stanford University – Tree

One of the more interesting mascots in college sports is the Stanford Tree. From 1930-72, Stanford’s mascot was the Indians, but after protests from Native American students and staff, the school’s nickname was changed to a color: the Cardinal. 

Stanford then faced the problem of needing a symbol to reflect its new nickname. It was decided the school’s unofficial mascot could be a redwood tree, based on the famous El Palo Alto tree near the university located in, you guessed it, Palo Alto, California. The tree is portrayed by a member of the band and can be seen in several variants on the sidelines of sporting events. 

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Western Kentucky University – Hilltoppers

The official mascot of the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers is literally a giant, furry, red blob named Big Red. The mascot was created by WKU student Ralph Carey in 1979 and was designed not to portray an animal or a hillbilly stereotype. In 1990, Big Red was plagiarized by Italian television station, Mediaset, and Antonio Ricci to create Gabibbo, a mascot for the television station. WKU sued them for $250 million in 2003.

University of California Santa Cruz – Banana Slugs

The official mascot of UCSC is the Banana Slug, a mollusk found on the redwood forest floor that is bright, shiny and lacks a shell. Robert Sinsheimer, chancellor of UCSC in 1980, attempted to change the school’s mascot to the Sea Lions, but the students continued to support the Banana Slugs. In 1986, the Banana Slug was instated as the official mascot of UCSC. 

Hometown Favorite: New Orleans Pelicans

Some of the weirdest mascots in sports reside not too far away in the Crescent City’s own Smoothie King Center. This is the home of the truly terrifying Pierre the Pelican, who was fittingly announced the day before Halloween in 2013. 

The team has since announced that they would redesign Pierre the Pelican to make him look a bit less creepy.

Pierre is not the only horrifying mascot the Pelicans have had, however. Even before the Hornets changed the name of the team to the Pelicans, King Cake Baby made appearances at games during Mardi Gras season.  

The team chose to create this stunning work of horror as an homage to a Mardi Gras tradition in which bakers place tiny baby dolls inside of king cakes. Whoever receives the slice with the baby gets a crunchy bit of plastic and has to buy the next cake! The Pelicans’ King Cake Baby, however, is an oversized infant with bulging eyes, and it will likely riddle you with nightmares for several nights if you choose to attend a game at which the baby is present. 

The King Cake Baby is so terrifying that it is being portrayed in horror movies. Recently, the mascot’s creator sued the producers of the movie “Happy Death Day” for copying the King Cake Baby. The killer in both of the Happy Death Day movies used a mask that looks very similar to the King Cake Baby.