Young and old, human and canine, and rap and alternative lovers alike had something to cheer for at Tuesday’s Spring Fling.
For some, the highlight was the musical performances, which were marked by throngs of swaying bodies and crowd-surfing thrill-seekers. For others, it was the long-awaited naming of the new Handsome Dan — a 69-pound, long-tongued English bulldog from Hamden named Mugsy.
As if seeing white smoke at the Vatican, spirited Yalies saw history unfold on Old Campus at 4:02 p.m. Tuesday as Magnificent Mugsy Rangoon was named Handsome Dan XVI, following an hour-long competition to select Yale’s mascot. Mugsy was selected from a competitive field of 10 bulldog finalists in a contest that drew hundreds of onlookers as the dogs ripped into a stuffed Princeton Tiger and a Harvard Crimson flag.
“The next Handsome Dan is Mugsy,” announced Chris Getman ’64, mascot caretaker for the past 21 years and one of the contest’s five judges.
Immediately the crowd descended on Mugsy. The marching band struck up the school song, onlookers sang “Bulldog, Bulldog, bow, wow, wow,” and dozens of cameras swooped in around the winning pooch. ESPN, Sports Illustrated and USA Today were among the media representatives present at the event hounding the new mascot; Mugsy and his owner Bob Sansone appeared on ESPN’s “Cold Pizza” television show Wednesday morning.
The organizers presented Mugsy with his lifetime employment contract, and he signed it with his paw, promising “to serve as the Yale University Athletics mascot, to be patient with young and old alike and to bring good fortune to the playing fields of Yale.” Mugsy, a two-year-old bulldog, could well live into his teens, guaranteeing him a long reign as Yale’s top dog.
“Speech! Speech!” cried a nearby Yale student.
“I’m speechless,” Sansone said, clearly elated as he held his champion bulldog. “[But] he’s even more speechless.”
Meanwhile, The Sabotage, winner of last Friday’s “Battle of the Bands” sponsored by WYBC, performed on a side stage in front of Phelps Gate as students and visitors swarmed Old Campus and set up camp on the lawn, using blankets, chairs and couches for seating.
Some students played volleyball and frisbee while others jammed on guitars and smoked on hookahs to pass the time before the main events. The food provided by the Yale Dining Services included classic cookout staples such as hamburgers, hotdogs and potato salad, as well as vegetable burgers, matzah and gefilte fish for those observing Passover.
Shortly after 5 p.m., beatboxer Rahzel took the main stage and onlookers slowly formed a crowd in front of the platform. For some, his oral pyrotechnics were the highlight of Spring Fling.
“Rahzel was cool,” said Mike Friedman ’08. “Even if you don’t like his style, you have to admire his skill.”
The size of the crowd increased for The Shins, who began performing around 6:15 p.m. Hundreds of bodies smashed and swayed together while occasional crowd-surfers passed by overhead, crashing into unaware bystanders.
Jessica Kimball ’08 said she liked what she saw and asked her friend to hold her cell phone while a nearby group of male students lifted her over their heads.
“They just threw me up there, [and] then out of nowhere somebody just grabbed me and threw me across the crowd,” she said. “It was a good crowd-surfing experience.”
Throughout the show, security officers in yellow jackets pushed surfers approaching the stage back into the throng of onlookers as the fervor of the crowd increased.
“Toward the end it did get a bit rough,” said Kimball. “I think I kicked somebody in the head. Sorry, dude.”
Lauren Ezell ’07, the Spring Fling event chair, said there were no serious incidents despite the large crowd. Organizers were unable to estimate the number in attendance at Spring Fling, but believed it was in the thousands.
“We didn’t have any major problems other than expected ones [because] the acts weren’t really mosh-pit acts,” she said. “I don’t think anyone really got in trouble with security.”
As the sun began to set, the final act, O.A.R., took the stage and was greeted by an enthusiastic audience.
While less well-known than The Shins, some students said they thought O.A.R. put on a better performance.
“The Shins were okay, however they were not the best choice for a live event,” Cain Soltoff ’08 said. “O.A.R., on the other hand, was the perfect choice for the outdoor festival with the right mix of energy in their music. You could tell people were totally into it.”
Although all three acts were well received by Spring Fling crowds, not everybody enjoyed the show.
“In comparison to the shows that other schools can and do get, we get low quality artists or has-beens,” said Josh Foran ’06, who also said he thought the artists were too “taste-specific.”
While opinions about the performances diverged, many students said that Spring Fling was a success, especially in comparison to recent years.
“It was certainly a step up from last year,” Ian Bishop ’07 said.
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