A Boilermaker if ever there was one, Purdue Pete first took the field to cheer on the Boilermakers in 1956. Initially, students were chosen to portray Pete because of tumbling ability. In those days, Pete had a papier mache head and a bit of padding but was expected to tumble along with the cheerleaders. Today, Pete's head is crafted in the same aviation technology lab that produced the locomotive body of the X-tra Special. In addition to the head, the four students who portray Pete wear shoulder pads and carry a hammer.
Pete got his start in 1940 as an advertising icon for the University Bookstore, and he continues in that role. He first appeared outside bookstore ads in 1944, when editors of the Debris yearbook put an adapted Pete on each page. For instance, in the home economics section, Pete had a bucket and mop; for civil engineering, he peered through a transit.
Pete has changed with the times, boasting more than five makeovers in his 45 years rooting on the Boilermakers.
Purdue Pete stays very busy during the year attending many local, state and national level events. If you would like request Purdue Pete at your next event, CLICK HERE FOR PURDUE PETE APPEARANCE REQUESTS.
The official mascot of the Boilermakers is a replica of a Victorian-era locomotive. Conceived by a Purdue student in the 1930s to exemplify
the engineering and agrarian heritage of Purdue, the first Special was provided by a group of alumni working in executive positions in the rail
and automotive industries. Boilermaker Special I made its debut on the first day of classes in 1940. Then-President Edward Elliott assigned an
existing spirit group, the Reamer Club, to maintain and operate "the train," as Reamers have always called the Special.
Alumni, students, faculty and staff have raised funds to replace the Special as it has worn out -- in 1953, 1960 and, most recently, in 1993.
Boilermaker Special V was unveiled on Sept. 25 of the latter year at the Purdue-Notre Dame game. Lafayette semi-trailer manufacturer
Wabash National took the lead in providing materials and labor to build the newest Special. The "V" is appropriate because Special IV,
Known as the X-tra Special, was actually the fourth faux locomotive produced.
Although each version of the full-size Special has been a total remake, elements of V came from I, including the bell, light and whistle.
Built to be roadworthy in each of its four incarnations, the Special appears at all games in Ross-Ade Stadium, travels to away football games
and is a favorite at events ranging from parades to birthday parties. The Special made the trip to Pasadena to accompany the Boilermakers to the
2001 Rose Bowl, although it was shipped the 2,100 miles to southern California.
The Purdue Reamer Club is responsible for the care of the Boilermaker Special and X-tra Special. The Club was founded in 1923 and is dedicated to fostering the observance of school traditions, supporting all sporting events, and aiding in the development of proper school spirit. Visit http://www.purduereamerclub.org/ for more information.
BOILERMAKER X-TRA SPECIAL
Built on a golf cart frame, the X-tra Special goes to all the athletics events that the Boilermaker Special can't, including those in Mackey Arena and Lambert Fieldhouse. The body for the X-tra Special was fabricated in a Department of Aviation Technology lab on the West Lafayette campus.