Messenger - Vol. 1, No. 2, Page 14
Winter 1992
Huggable Blue Hen
     It's no longer a lean, mean fighting machine. It's a lot more
personable and cuddly. It's the new University of Delaware Blue Hen,
which made its debut this fall.
     Some diehard fans say the new Blue Hen is a little too huggable,
but families, especially children, seem to love it. After the away
game at the  University of  Massachusetts, a little girl approached
the Blue Hen and asked for its autograph. Inside, Larry Chaifetz, the
sophomore accounting major who wears the costume, was elated.
     In fact, reaction from junior-sized football fans is so good
there are tentative plans afoot to establish a Blue Hen Coop-a portion
of the stadium where youngsters can have their photos taken with the
Blue Hen.
     "The old Blue Hen (which is still rented out for off-campus
appearances) had a fighting face and looked mean. He walked with his
chest out and was a real strong guy," Chaifetz says. "The new one is
happier and more loving. He's very 'cartoony.' He's made of foam and
wears yellow corduroy overalls with a big U.D. appliqued on the front.
     "It's been a big adjustment for some fans, but most people seem
to like it. I get more good than bad reactions when I go up in the
stands," Chaifetz says.
     In fact, Chaifetz is able to maneuver better in the stands inside
the new costume. One of the reasons a new Blue Hen was needed was to
give whoever wears the costume greater flexibility of movement and
better eyesight.
     "In the old Blue Hen, you could only see out of the sides,"
Chaifetz says. "In this one, you can see out of the eyes and the
mouth. It's a bigger costume, so you have to work with it and learn
how to navigate with the stomach and tail, but it's much more
practical as mascots go."
     Why a new Blue Hen in l99l?
     "We'd had the old Blue Hen for eight to 10 years," Sylvester
Johnson, assistant director of the Intercollegiate Athletics Program
and Blue Hen adviser, says. "It was beginning to look pretty bad. The
fans and the cheerleaders were complaining about it.
     "And," he continues, "the Blue Hen is very important. It's a
great vehicle for recruiting, for publicity, for representing the
University. We wanted one that would look nice and give the proper
     Johnson served on a committee that also included Robert R. Davis,
director of University relations, and Barbra Andrisani, director of
alumni relations. Their charge was to come up with a new Blue Hen.
     Johnson visited many other schools and several companies that
manufacture mascots and talked to a lot of University people about
just what they wanted to see in a Blue Hen.
     Then the committee consulted Andrea Barrier, associate professor
of theatre, who did the actual design and construction of the Blue
     Chaifetz says he sees the Blue Hen's main job as getting the
crowd going. He performs some cheers with the cheerleaders and
interacts with the band. Before each game, he chats with the other
team's mascot to work out a skit to perform before the fans, usually
involving some sort of rivalry.
     He also makes it a point to visit as many tailgaters as he can
prior to a game and makes a traditional visit to the president's box
during each home game.
     A second Blue Hen costume, identical to the one Chaifetz wears
only smaller, is under consideration. The person chosen to wear the
smaller costume would appear on field occasionally to interact with
the large one. The person inside also would serve as an alternate for
     Having two people who know how to perform as the Blue Hen is
practical, Johnson said, as the Hen is often in demand. In addition to
football games, it had September appearances at MBNA and Newark's
Community Day. The Hen also appears at functions sponsored by the
offices of the president and alumni relations.
     -Beth Thomas