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    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Just Call Her Ralphie

    She is the quintessential BBW (Big Beautiful Woman). She is 1,200 pounds of high energy passion. Who can resist her? Certainly not college students who flock to see her do her stuff on a Saturday. She is known as Ralphie IV, the University of Colorado's buffalo mascot.

    The buffalo, a gift to Colorado from Atlanta media mogul Ted Turner, is accompanied by ten handlers during her charge onto the field. Several will be holding ropes attached to the animal.

    The Ralphie Handling Squad is a group of 10 college students along with two coaches that have the responsibility of running Colorado's buffalo mascot around the field before the beginning of the game and the third quarter. I dare say that the Noles have not seen anything like this at other stadiums.

    The squad practices every Friday before home games. They meet at the stadium at 5 p.m. and run her around once or twice. She can go up to 25 mph and must be slowed down from time to time.

    The name Ralphie comes from the original Ralphie I, who made her first appearance at a CU function in 1966. For a while, she was called Ralph, a name given by the student body. When students found out the buffalo was female, it was quickly changed to Ralphie.

    Always having females isn't an extreme case of sexual discrimination -- it's just a whole lot safer.

    "Our insurance won't cover us if we have a male," handler Michael Dauro said. "The males are a lot larger and more aggressive, so there is no way we could have one run on the field."

    Ralphie even has a trust fund thanks to Violet Stromberg, a 96-year-old lifelong CU football fan. She left her life savings of $40,730 to create a fund to care for the buffalo.

    The Ralphie Fund will help pay for Ralphie's hoof trimmings,transportation, harnesses, ropes, vet bills and $1,500 a year in oats, alfalfa and grass

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