Video by Olivia Bragg
It’s not every day that two American black bears have a university-wide birthday party.
Lady and Joy turned 18 and 19 this week, the same weekend as the university they mascot for turned 175. And to celebrate, Baylor threw a party with ice cream, photo ops and free shirts.
While kids enjoyed bounce houses and toss-across, one little girl had certain expectations.
“I thought the bears were going to be wearing party hats,” said five-year-old Pippi Stubenrauch after first explaining, “President Livingstone’s dog liked me a lot.”
While new memories were being created for future alumni, like Pippi, more seasoned alumni remember a time when the Bears could sic ‘em on the football field.
“They’re a big part of the university,” said Kim Cox (‘97). “When I was a kid, they were still allowed on the field. They would be in the endzone drinking Dr Pepper.”
The festivities started Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Bill & Eva Williams Bear Habitat. Over 100 students lined up hours in advance and some families came in from out of town just for the Bears’ birthday party.
“Our son is a lead bear trainer,” said Lauri Sorrells, mother of a student in chamber. “We came to see him, support him, and see the bears. We love the bears [and] we love getting to see [our son] do his thing.”
Their birthday party is especially celebratory after Baylor announced Lady’s radiation therapy and her improved health after discovering a benign tumor.
“My brother works at the A&M vet center that helped the bears,” said Laura Ashley Childress, Eustace junior. “I thought it would be fun to see them.”
Local ice cream shop Heritage Creamery even released a seasonal grapefruit and honey flavor in the mascots’ honor – “Joy & Lady’s Favorite.” According to their Instagram, a portion of all proceeds from this new flavor went straight to the Baylor Bear Habitat fund to benefit “conservation and education efforts serving black bears across the country!”
“We wanted a flavor we thought the bears would like,” said Hannah Harris, Waco sophomore. “We had the bears try it out earlier this week.”
But why tell you about it when we could walk you through it.
Baylor’s 175th birthday party then continued from the bear pit to the Ferrell Center, and will continue for the rest of the month.
At the basketball game, thousands of fans cheered, wore party hats, ate free popcorn, and held up cupcake cutouts. During halftime, Livingstone brought out a giant cake and led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to Baylor. Topping it all off, the No. 1 men’s basketball team held their ranking and pulled out a 68-52 win.
They had fans going home with “That Good Ol’ Baylor Line” and “Happy Birthday” stuck in their heads.
Additional reporting by Sophia Alejandro