Fort Hays State University’s rockin' Gross Memorial Coliseum will become even more festive on the night of Wednesday, Feb. 24, with a giant birthday party for the university mascot, Victor E. Tiger.
The party will take place during the basketball doubleheader with the Pittsburg State University Gorillas. The women's game will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the men's game following at 7:30. Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, and Pat Lowry, editor and publisher of The Hays Daily News, will roll a giant birthday cake to center court during halftime of the men's game. Other area mascots, led by Buffalo Bob from The Hays Daily News, will join Victor E. in cutting the cake. The Hays Daily News is the corporate sponsor for the doubleheader with Pitt State.
The celebration will include free balloons for the kids and free birthday cake for all until it is gone. All of the mascots, including Victor E. and Buffalo Bob, will be available during the games to shake hands, pose for photos and sign autographs. The Hays Daily News will also hand out a special newspaper insert ballyhooing Victor E.'s birthday. Editor and Publisher Lowry said fans can follow the easy directions on the last page to fold the inserts into party hats that can be worn during the celebration.
Although this semester marks the 10th anniversary of Victor E.'s birth, the FHSU mascot has existed in various forms since 1914. There is no conclusive historical record of its creation. Some evidence suggests it may have been the brainchild of President W.A. Lewis, who served from 1913 to 1933 and hailed from Missouri. Through many years there was no officially designated version of the FHSU Tiger, so many varieties came and went, with two or three or more versions of the Tiger sharing the stage in any given year.
In 1999, President Hammond directed the university’s Integrated Marketing Committee to develop a high-energy, expressive, confident Tiger. Art Director Mary Ridgway modeled an official new Tiger graphic based on the old Tiger head that was emblazoned at that time on the basketball court. After the new Tiger graphic was tested with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university -- and a few tweaks made -- President Hammond unveiled the first official mascot in the university’s long history in a public ceremony during the spring 2000 semester. A few months later, based on suggestions from students, the new mascot was given his name, Victor E. Tiger. Alumnus Larry Dreiling, who played the role of the FHSU mascot as a student, purchased the first Victor E. Tiger mascot suit for the university.