The origin of the Allegheny Alligator is unique, and represents a truly grassroots movement by students of the College.
In 1925, students at Allegheny began a satire magazine called the Allegheny Alligator. Think of it as an early version of the Krampus, only packed with poetry, illustrations, and ads upon ads. The reason for calling it the Alligator?
“Purely because of the 99.44% alliterative value of its orthography”, the first issue stated in its introduction. The name stuck, even though Allegheny’s scaly mascot underwent several periods of reconsideration.
At one point, college librarian Phillip Benjamin suggested that the mascot should represent the Native American population that once lived in the area. Names such as “Indians”, “Braves”, and even “Scalpers” were considered.
Another name change suggested was the Allegheny Hellbenders, in honor of the giant salamander that lives in ecosystems near the college. No other college had this animal as their mascot, which was a part of the appeal.
However, none of these efforts were concentrated enough, and the original name given by the students was beloved enough that it stuck.
Ever since, the friendly yet fierce Gator has represented the College.
Costumes representing the mascot have changed through the years, and although they have not always looked alike or had the same name, the energetic green creature has always been an exciting staple of home sports games.
The first gator mascots were simple hand-sewn costumes with papier-mâché heads. They were created by members of the Golden Gator Club, a student society dedicated to school spirit.
In 1987, Stevie the Allegheny Alligator was introduced. The purchase of Stevie marked the beginning of the college owned mascot suits.
A student-made costume used as the gator mascot from 1994 through 2003 (above left) was replaced in 2004 by another college purchased suit, and was shortly-thereafter affectionately named Chompers (above right).
Gator images courtesy of Merrick Archives Digital Image Collection, Allegheny College.
Allegheny’s favorite alligator required a makeover after the 2004 suit became unwearable, and irreparable. Students, faculty and alumni chose the new color of Chompers. Some votes were cast by signing an egg on display in the library using ink in the desired color. The choices included gold, dark blue, bright green, and the winner, dark green. After an “incubation process” the new Chompers was unveiled on February 14th, 2015 as part of the College’s bicentennial year celebrations.