Football

Run Ralphie Run: University Of Colorado’s Live Mascot

University of Colorado mascot Ralphie VI. Photo Courtesy: David Zalubowski-The Associated Press

“Here Comes Ralphie!” This phrase has become etched into Colorado football lore. The University of Colorado has made use of a live buffalo for their mascot since 1967. On September 3, 2021, Ralphie VI made her debut run at 15-months old. She continues a proud CU tradition. 2021 is the 55th season that a buffalo has led the team onto the field. As head coach Karl Dorrell and the Buffs seek a second-straight bowl berth, she will be there to lead the way.

Ralphie’s Beginnings

Ralphie I was donated to the University of Colorado in 1966 by John Lowery. Lowery purchased the buffalo calf from a rancher in Sedgewick, Colorado for $150. She did not showcase her famous run around Folsom Field until a year later. On September 16, 1967, she led the team onto the field for the first time. The tradition has lived on since that day. In total, CU’s first live mascot attended every home game for 13 years before retiring at the end of the 1978 season.

Before Ralphie I officially retired, the university began searching for her replacement. As a result, a buffalo named Moon was tapped as her successor. The Buffs second mascot made her debut in November 1978. The second buffalo was larger than her predecessor and thus required a larger harness. That same year, the university announced that Ralphie Handlers were eligible to receive a varsity letter.

CU’s third live mascot was the first to wear the “Ralphie Blanket,” a garment that reads “Go Buffaloes, Beat [opposing team].” She held the role from 1987 to 1997.

Ralphie In The 21st Century

CU’s fourth buffalo carried on the tradition into the 21st century, retiring in 2008. Ralphie V, also known as “Blackout” due to her dark coloring, weighed 450 pounds when she arrived in Colorado in 2007. As “Blackout” began to age, handlers noticed that she was getting faster and not responding to cues. Ultimately, this led to her forced retirement at the end of last season. Having served for 12 seasons, she had the second-longest tenure of any buffalo before her. Only the original mascot had a longer career.

The Colorado Buffaloes have a storied tradition on the gridiron and in the mascot who proudly represents them. While the team may not be positioned to claim a Pac-12 Championship in 2021, the introduction of Ralphie VI makes this a historic year. Watching her run at Folsom Field makes for a memorable experience.

Final Thoughts

The introduction of Ralphie VI represents a new era of the Colorado Buffaloes. She is next to carry on one of college football’s most unique traditions. Like the five who have come before her, she epitomizes CU pride through and through. Run Ralphie Run!

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