Oski the Bear
Oski on Sproul Plaza
|University||University of California, Berkeley|
Oski or Oski the Bear (named after the Oski Yell) is the official mascot of the University of California, Berkeley. Oski’s name, design and character were developed by William “Rocky” Rockwell, who was the first student to play the role, and former Daily Cal editor Warrington Colescott. Oski made his debut during the September 27, 1941 football season-opener against St. Mary's College and has been the university’s official mascot ever since. Up until 1941, live bears were used as mascots. After 1946, the bear's activities have been overseen by the Oski Committee, which also appoints a new Oski whenever a replacement is required. Oski's identity is protected by the Committee and wearers of the suit generally do not disclose their having worn the suit. There may be multiple members of the Committee who wear the suit depending on their schedules.
Oski as presented in Cal fight songs
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Oski is mentioned by name in several California fight songs. In the songs, the name "Oski" is used interchangeably with the title "Golden Bear". Several of the songs give an impression of Oski being a powerful guardian-being dwelling in the heavens, as well as sallying forth from a lair on Earth. Oski is identified as the astronomical constellation Ursa Major (the Great Bear). Although Oski has his benign side ("patient" and "silent"), he is more often presented as growling, fighting, rumbling, grumbling, thundering, and shaking the ground. He is described as sturdy and mighty. It is said of Oski that he "wears a Paderewski hair", referring to Oski's shaggy hair.
Oski is described as "Our totem", and Cal's teams (or perhaps Cal students in general) are described as sons of the Golden Bear. In one song, Oski is referred to as "He" with a capital "H", as one refers to the Deity. One song appears to attribute to Oski the ability to fly through the air.
These characteristics are seen in the following lyrics of Cal fight songs:
Our sturdy Golden Bear Is watching from the skies; Looks down upon our colors fair, And guards us from his lair.
Big "C" --
Golden Bear is ever watching; Day by day he prowls
Cal Band March --
And when the game's done, California's Golden Bear has carried the day.
California, We're For You --
All our rival's hopes are doomed to die, When our Golden Bear looks down on high; Hear our Oski's mighty thunder,
Brawn and brain are all in vain Unless our spirit's there In ev'ry son of the Golden Bear.
Let the echoes ring our Oski
Golden Bear --
Oh, have you seen the heavens blue, heavens blue, When just sev'n stars are shining through, shining through Right overhead a jovial crew? They're joining hands to make the Bear
And oh, that Bear's a glorious sight, glorious sight, A-circling 'round the pole all night, pole all night; And once you've seen him, you're all right, You've seen our California Bear.
He has a very patient air, patient air, He wears a Paderewski hair, 'rewski hair, He's the center rush of the heavens I swear, Our silent, sturdy Golden Bear.
A Californian through and through, Our totem, He, the Golden Bear.
Make Way for the Bear --
Rumbling, grumbling, loud upon the air, Sounds the growling of the mighty Bear. Californians gather 'round his Lair, And march to Victory.
Marching along for California We stride beside the fighting Bear.
California Marching Song --
Californians fight with the sturdy might of the growling Golden Bear. Our Oski sounds and shakes the ground As vict'ry fills the air.
- Kell, Gretchen (September 26, 2016). "Birthday Bear: Iconic Oski turns 75". UC Berkeley.
- "Berkeley: Traditions". University of California History. 1966. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
After 1946, Oski was the charge of a special committee. This group of men between 5'2" and 5'4" in height and possessed of considerable gymnastic ability, determined Oski's schedule, planned his stunts, and took turns assuming his character.
- "Cal Songs ~ University of California Marching Band".
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