Students to switch into black after final Chief performance



By Emily Sokolik

Eric Obrock had no problem deciding what to wear this morning.

For days, he has planned to wear a T-shirt bearing the Chief Illiniwek logo. Thousands of other students like Obrock are wearing Chief apparel to show their support for the recently retired mascot.

“Lately, I’ve been mourning our loss by wearing black,” said Obrock, junior in LAS.

But today, Obrock is participating in Chief Shirt Day, a group he created on Facebook shortly after the decision to retire the Chief was announced Friday.

Almost 3,500 students have joined the group since then and plan to dress in Chief attire throughout the day.

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Chief Illiniwek’s last performance will be tonight at Assembly Hall during the men’s basketball game. In accordance with Chief Shirt Day, students at the game will change from orange to black clothing after the Chief performs his famous “Three in One” dance at halftime.

“If the Chief is to be banned, let’s make it hurt,” Obrock said on the Facebook Web site.

Campus bookstores have not received any news on the fate of the Chief trademark.

“We haven’t heard anything,” said Brad Bridges, general manager of the Illini Union Bookstore, 809 S. Wright St.

Brian Paragi, assistant manager of TIS Campus Bookstore, 707 S. 6th St., said the last information the store received was ambiguous.

We were told the decision concerning the trademark could be made anywhere from the next three weeks to the next three months, he said.

Bridges said he considered Monday to be the best day for sales thanks to the nicer weather.

However, people are still rushing to campus bookstores to get their hands on anything related to the Chief.

“You name it, we’re selling it. Whatever has the Chief on it,” said Jon Tichenor, manager at TIS Campus Bookstore.

Tichenor said the bookstore has been designing and printing new T-shirts since Friday. One shirt lists the names of all of the Chief portrayers since 1926 when the mascot was first introduced. Tichenor said he ordered three hundred Chief buttons yesterday.

“People are wanting to get a piece of history,” he said.

In addition, customers are worried Chief merchandise could be discontinued at any time, Tichenor said.

“I think people are stockpiling Chief merchandise because of the reality that, soon, they will probably stop making it,” said Jennifer Flesher, freshman in ACES.

Te Shurt, 711 S. Wright St., is having a difficult time keeping Chief apparel in stock.

“There’s just been so many more people than normal,” said Kathryn Devine, Te Shurt employee. “They just keep asking for it.”

The store has had few orders for custom Chief clothing, but new shipments of regular merchandise are constantly arriving for the rest of the week, Devine said.

However, some students are not feeling any need to add Chief Illiniwek clothing to their wardrobe.

“If they are only getting rid of the dance and not the logo, then I don’t care,” said John Crue, sophomore in LAS.

But Nik Emerson, junior in Engineering, has been frequenting campus bookstores for the last few days.

“I am buying more Chief clothes to wear around campus to show my unconditional support for the Chief,” he said. “And to show the University how much this symbol means to me as well as to the campus.”

Ryan Davis and Kathleen Foody contributed to this report.