Ohio's Youngstown State University (YSU) made history last weekend when nearly 1,000 people dressed up as penguins and waddled alongside the Homecoming parade.
At final count, 972 students, alumni, and community members donned costumes Saturday for YSU's Homecoming, which celebrated the school's 50th anniversary. After the Guinness World Records official count, the penguins waddled through town as part of the Homecoming parade.
"It's definitely exciting to be a part of something never done before," one student told the local newspaper, The Vindicator. University President Jim Tressel said he was happy the event had united students, alumni, and fans. "I'm just so proud everyone came here to break the world record together."
YSU Professor Emeritus Warren Young kept the school spirit going by appearing for class in full penguin regalia—bow tie included.
Why penguins? In honor of the university's mascots, Pete and Penny Penguin, and the university's nickname, the Penguins. According to YSU sports officials, the university is the only four-year higher education institution that uses the nickname Penguins.
The inspiration for the name is disputed, but the timing is not; the idea was reportedly born during (or on the way to) a frigid basketball game in late January, 1933. Later that year, students at the institution, then known as Youngstown College, unanimously agreed to officially adopt the nickname.
YSU isn't the only campus to go all out for Homecoming. At the University of Central Florida, more than 15,000 students hold a pep rally in the campus reflecting pond, while first-year students at Dartmouth College run laps around a huge bonfire (YSU release, 9/22; Tonoli, The Vindicator, 10/29; AP/Washington Post, 10/29; YSU Sports site, accessed 10/31).
Also see: How one university engaged young donors with "naming rights for the rest of us"
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