URBee Buzzes Off After 24 Years of Mascot Service
Fresh from a mascot makeover, the new University of Rochester Yellowjacket will make its debut during a basketball doubleheader on Feb. 1 with a new name chosen by the University community.
URBee, the longtime mascot whose misnomer name and cherubic features have been the public face of the Yellowjackets since the 1983-84 academic year, will step down.
The new Yellowjacket, a pugnacious wasp whose likeness was unveiled in October, will be formally introduced by University President Joel Seligman as the Yellowjackets take on Washington University in the Louis Alexander Palestra.
The introduction will take place between the women's and men's games, which begin at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively. The women Yellowjackets (15-1) have a one-game advantage over Washington University in the University Athletic Association conference, while the nationally top-ranked men Yellowjackets (15-1) are a game behind Washington University in the conference.
Dogged by a pudgy frame and twig-like appendages, the barrel-bodied URBee cut a physically unimposing figure as far as mascots go. His wings were undersized and he had five fingers on each hand, a rarity among animated characters.
"I'd buy an old URBee stuffed animal for my neighbor's new baby, but I wouldn't be intimidated by him on the football or baseball field," junior Jacob Nacheman recently told the Campus Times.
But URBee's shortcomings, which critics charged should have kept him out of the mascot game altogether, were overshadowed by an outsized zeal for the University that burned as brightly as his trademark wingtip yellow cleats.
"I didn't have the name. I didn't have the looks. I didn't even have the fingers for downs and quarters," URBee said. "But I had heart, and I wore it on my sleeve each and every day. I like to think that counts for something."
URBee first appeared on campus in 1983, popping up in the stands of Fauver Stadium during football games and in the Palestra for basketball contests.
"No one really knows where he came from," said Bill Murphy, vice president for university communications. "He just sort of appeared and we adopted him over time. I guess he was too cuddly to resist, but the fact is we're the Yellowjackets and URBee is, well, a bee."
The University previously announced that 3,443 students, faculty and staff members voted to retire URBee and replace him with a more intimidating interpretation.
That successor, whose name was selected in an online vote of six options that had been winnowed down from 1,156 submissions, is a ferocious four-fingered, fist-pumping mesomorph of a Yellowjacket with giant wings and an unforgiving stinger.
"I wouldn't want to tangle with him," said URBee, who threw his weight behind his successor. "The University of Rochester is a force to be reckoned with and its mascot should reflect that. Just ask the Wash U bear after Friday night."