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Monday, Nov. 24, 11:36 a.m.
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He’s not your average bear

Service fraternity responsible for bringing out UM mascot shares behind-the-scene look at being Bananas

Alpha Delta has been going through changes as a fraternity lately, but one thing remains the same: they are the men behind the University of Maine’s Bananas the Bear mascot.

Alpha Delta, the only service fraternity on campus, has been a part of the Bananas tradition since 1965, and considers it their most enjoyable project as a fraternity. Tyler Martin, a third-year business finance major and the publicity director, said most students do not have any idea they are the ones behind Bananas.

“I think Bananas is special because of his history,” Justin, a Bananas volunteer who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the fraternity’s rules about betraying the identities of the brothers who act as Bananas, said. “He has been entirely student organized and run since a real bear was used. This mascot was created by the students and represents the students.”

Four brothers regularly take turns being Bananas, but others have tried it.

“Claustrophobic,” Anthony Feldpausch, a third-year history major and the president of Alpha Delta, said of his one experience. He claimed that “BC [Boston College] fans are the worst” to be around when in costume.

Alpha Delta recently changed its name from Alpha Phi Omega in January, after the national fraternity began making it more adult-based, allowing female members to join and taking away the student-focus. Martin claimed the name change was due to the “ideological split,” and Feldpausch defended the decision because of their desire to remain service oriented and student run.

Alpha Delta participates in a myriad of projects aside from Bananas. They are behind activities such as Late Night Local, the fog horn at hockey games, running food drives for local shelters and Maine Day Ooze Ball.

Justin and Martin both agree that their work behind Bananas has the widest variety of reactions.

“Most often reactions are positive, but it really depends on the type of person,” Justin said. “At the risk of stereotyping, I’ll divide reactions up by groups. Babies are normally a little afraid, but the parents always push meeting Bananas. Little kids tend to love him and want to follow him around or give hugs. There’s an age group that just wants to annoy him and cause problems. Then there’s a group that just wants to ignore him because they think mascots are stupid. Finally, there is the college community which generally loves him. They understand that while not ‘real,’ Bananas represents the entire university.”

The job has its ups and downs, but Justin said it’s worth it every time someone who sees Bananas smiles. His favorite memory is traveling to two Frozen Four hockey tournaments with the team.

Then there are the downsides.

“The worst [time] has to be standing in front of Hannaford on a sweltering summer day for an athletics promotional event,” Justin said, smiling. “It was so pointless and everyone who walked by was like ‘why is Bananas here?’”