By Cathy Lawhon
The University of California, Irvine’s anteater mascot, voted Mashable’s 2015 Mascot Madness champion, captained the campus’s entry in the 107th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, complete with live singers, and instrumental performances that won the “Best Music” award. Peter’s appearance in the parade, themed “Seas the Holidays,” is part of UCI’s 50th anniversary celebration. The UCI @ 50 craft – and Peter – cruised the harbor nightly through Saturday, Dec. 19.
Members of the UCI Chamber Singers Lauren Han, Gabriela Lavadia, Jacob Tulley and Garrett J. Sanderson performed a cappella versions of classic Christmas songs under the choral direction of Seth Houston, professor of music.
Faculty and staff of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts also produced and performed holiday-themed music. Alan Terricciano, professor of dance; Men in Blaque, directed by Joseph Huszti; Bobby Rodriguez, Nicole Mitchel and Kei Akagi, professors of music; and Norman Beede, senior musician and director of dance accompanists, all got in on the act.
UCI’s Pep Band provided rousing tunes as well.
Funded by alumni donors and friends, the entry highlights the university’s commitment to sustainability. Students wearing anteater masks pedal stationary bikes connected to generators to power the boat’s lights. A giant, inflatable likeness of Peter the Anteater keeps watch on the bow, while the live mascot himself – sporting a nautical outfit – waves to onlookers. Jesse Colin Jackson, assistant professor of art in UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts, designed the yacht’s decorations, and his students helped execute the plan.
“My research group, which volunteered to create and build the design focused on the 50th anniversary, is fundamentally concerned with merging technology, creativity and sustainability,” Jackson says. “We decided that running the lights from bicycles would not only align with our campus’s renewable energy initiatives and the UC system’s 2025 carbon neutrality goal, but also just be so cool!”
UCI is one of about 80 participants in the parade, which helped earn Newport Beach a spot in Frommer’s list of the World’s Best Holiday Lights: 10 Decorated Cities.
*Image provided by UCI Communications.