Unusually strong winds from the southwest swept through downtown Evanston Thursday night, reaching highs of 25 miles per hour. Simultaneously, a congregation of purple descended onto Rotary International for the inaugural “Paint Evanston Purple” pep rally.
The culmination of a joint effort between the Evanston City Council and Northwestern’s athletic department, the pep rally celebrated the “Evanston Day” theme for this Saturday’s Wildcat showdown against Central Michigan. The festivities featured a large contingent of prominent Northwestern and Evanston figures, as well as both Northwestern and Evanston Township High School marching bands and spirit squads. Former NFL fullback and Northwestern alumnus Mike Adamle (Speech ’71) hosted.
Preparations earlier this week for the rally included painting fire hydrants across the city purple and dyeing the water at Fountain Square.
Welcoming the crowd on Sherman Avenue, Adamle first introduced Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, decked out in Northwestern purple, who effused enthusiasm and unbridled gusto for the pride and success of the football program.
University President Morton Schapiro followed, introduced by Adamle as “the most interesting man in the world” and with chants of “Morty!” from the student contingent that showed up.
“I love that cheer — it’s not that original, but I only wish I could get the family to start doing that,” joked Schapiro, who was also complimentary of the success of the football squad and the involvement of the city in embracing Northwestern and the athletic department.
Backed by the force of both marching bands, spirit leaders Weinberg senior Zack Moy and Communication senior Jed Feder followed with a quick lesson on how to do a proper Wildcat growl and a performance of “Hey, Baby!”, where they were joined onstage by Adamle for an impromptu dance with Willie the Wildcat.
“How about them ‘Cats? 3-and-0, am I right?” yelled Feder, before leading the crowd in a third-down growl, with claws extended.
The festivities were boosted by the news of the Stanley Cup’s pregame presentation to the Ryan Field crowd prior the game Saturday by athletic director Dr. Jim Phillips.
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald was the final presenter of the night and lauded the team as the “best and brightest of the country”, including senior defensive tackle Corbin Bryant, who was honored this week in the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for volunteering with groups like the Special Olympics.
With winds picking up strength and nightfall approaching, emcee Adamle concluded the ceremonies.
“Someone please repaint the fire hydrants red; my dog is very confused!”