Chip Off The Old Block
Chip, CU’s costumed mascot, has performed at sporting events and university and community activities since the 1980s. We recently caught up with Ethan, a Chip, who is identified only by first name to preserve his anonymity.
How many Chips are there, and how do you make sure you perform similarly?
There are eight, all males, at least this year. Usually there are six. We go to camp every summer with the goal to become the same character. We do drills like follow-the-leader and learn to walk the same way, using our arms, taking big steps, turning our heads.
Is there more than one Chip because of all the events you guys cover?
Yes. We do anywhere from 300 to 350 appearances a year. I probably will do 50-60.
I assume there’s no more than one Chip at any event?
Correct. There’s always just one, at least in suit. For every event we go to there’s Chip in suit and we always send someone out of suit. Their job is to make sure no one is pulling on the tail, ripping it off, and pulling off horns. We also keep him safe from kids as well as rowdy college students at games.
How much does the costume weigh, and is it difficult to deal with?
We’re actually very lucky because we have a non-inhibiting suit. Our mouth opens, so we can drink water and eat food while we’re in suit, which is huge for football games where you’re running around and getting dehydrated. The arms are heavy, but there’s nothing on our chest or our back. Then there are the heavy wool pants and jersey. The head is probably 7-8 pounds. It’s a hockey helmet with the head built around it out of foam and steel.
Is there any friendly competition between the Chips?
Out of suit, not really. We’re great friends. In suit, we have a game we play where other noncostumed Chips will yell your name while you’re dressed up, and you’re not supposed to look. Once you’re in suit, you’re no longer Ethan. You’re Chip Buffalo, and you’re only supposed to respond to that.
Photography by Glenn Asakawa