It wasn’t the kind of “special announcement” some fans were hoping for, but the events of last night’s “Celebration of the Razorback” in the Walton Arts Center parking lot were certainly special. And certainly fun.
“Every time you think about a Razorback, you think about toughness, meanness and a willingness to win. And that’s the reason we’re so proud to be the only university in America that has a Razorback as its mascot. It’s special,” said former UA head football coach and athletic director Frank Broyles. “Uh oh! They’re comin!” he yelled as a train pulled up to a stop at Dickson Street near George’s Majestic Lounge.
Moments later, local actor David Wright, along with coach Bobby Petrino, coach Dave Van Horn, Chancellor David Gearhart, athletics director Jeff Long and a handful of Razorback football players all stepped off the train and onto the stage to begin a reenactment of the legendary scene that unfolded in the same spot 100 years ago when the UA football team arrived back at the train depot after beating LSU 16-0 in the Southern finals.
Wright, who portrayed Hugo Bezdek, the UA football coach who in 1909 said the Arkansas Cardinals played like “a wild band of razorback hogs” was dressed in a straw hat and was animated enough to get cheers from the crowd and chuckles from most of the current football players standing behind him including running back Michael Smith. It was Bezdek’s comments a century ago that inspired the changing of the Arkansas mascot from Cardinals to Razorbacks.
After the drama, a historical marker was unveiled next to the railroad tracks and it was announced that a year-long celebration commemorating “100 Years of Razorbacks” including three interactive contests that will take place during the course of the year.
At least 1000 fans attended the celebration to hear the announcement, eat free hamburgers, pet Tusk the hog and mingle with coaches and players on Dickson Street for nearly three hours. It might not have been what some were expecting but it was a memorable time for sure.
Here’s to the Razorbacks.[If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view all the photos from the set on our Flickr page.]