No mascot has as distinctive a character because the Stanford Tree. For almost 5 many years, every Tree has made their costume distinctively, and fashionably, their very own.
In 1975, Chris Hutson ’76, the primary ever Tree, donned a wholly pink and tree-shaped costume with a typed “Stanford” brand connected to the leaves. Persevering with the monochromatic development, Tree #6, Pat Leigh Leckman ’85, accessorized an all-green costume with a white hat and putting yellow sun shades.
Playful assertion items stayed in vogue till Tree #10, Paul Brendan Kelly III ’89, took over. He crafted a trunk-dominated tree with a cartoonish type, that includes a cropped jacket, shaggy leaf-hair and large eyes.
Artistic potentialities of the Tree costume are almost limitless. A very notable costume may be present in Tree #42, Caroline “Kush” Kushel ’21 M.A. ’22, who crafted a wholly rainbow tree with patterned leaves, pink swirly eyes and a tongue protruding.
“I had simply came upon about Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin,” Kushel mentioned, referring to the Nineteen Sixties counterculture motion as inspiration for the rainbow shade. “I acquired actually into the motion after writing a paper for a PWR class.”
Jordan Zietz ’24, Tree #44 who lately retired this Might, created a equally memorable costume coated fully in pink, black and white.
“My complete tree had a little bit of a spooky vibe as a result of I’m a die-hard horror fan,” Zietz mentioned. “Plus, I wished folks to truly ‘worry the Tree’ for the primary time shortly.”
Zietz’s swimsuit was unabashedly himself. It included a be aware from his ex-girlfriend and leaves signed by celebrities in addition to his members of the family.
“I used to be in a position to present the world, on such a big scale, the intricacies of the individual that I’m,” Zietz mentioned. “It was virtually like a montage of my life, out on show, for everybody to see.”
Emily Rodriguez ’26, the present tree (#45) and the primary Central American Tree, used reversible leaves to make a fancy dress impressed by Timber previous.
“I wished to make use of colours like Caroline, and when Large Sport got here round, I’d flip all of my leaves so it will be a totally black and pink Tree, impressed by Jordan’s costume,” Rodriguez mentioned.
Making the costume may be difficult. Rodriguez had by no means sewn earlier than. Zietz additionally realized to stitch, weld and design his costume whereas in restoration from surgical procedure.
“Each Tree comes out far more customized than you’d suppose,” Rodriguez mentioned, “It is extremely dependent in your talent units and your creativity ranges.”
Leaning into this imaginative and retrospective spirit, Sam Weyen ’18, Tree #39, drew his inspiration from Stanford lore. Weyen named his costume “Hue” as a nod to its vibrant shade and David Hewes, who offered the golden spike that Leland Stanford pounded into the Transcontinental Railroad to mark its completion. Weyen’s costume additionally featured a gold tooth and monocle, referencing the Gilded Age.
Weyen lauded the Tree’s quirks: “Each Tree has been some model of nightmare gas, and I hope that doesn’t cease.”
“If we now have a Tree that appears legitimately cute in an athletic type, the best way a Clemson Tiger seems, I’d be so upset,” Weyen mentioned.
Sarah Younger ’17, Tree #38, additionally didn’t draw back from innovation. She crafted a vibrantly female willow tree for her swimsuit. As the primary Tree of shade, Younger mentioned it was necessary to her “to have a outstanding brown trunk and options that represented a departure from historical past.”
“I wished my costume to face out,” Younger mentioned. “I wished it to visually characterize the individual that’s inside.”
In response to Younger, who stays concerned within the Tree choice course of, Timber since her are almost completely from underrepresented backgrounds. “We wished to verify no matter was inequitable within the choice beforehand has been addressed and corrected,” Younger mentioned.
Whereas the Tree costume’s future type stays a thriller, previous and present Timber are dedicated to sustaining its originality. Whether or not accessorized with a monocle, pink lips or rainbow leaves, the Tree stands alone.
“I will likely be very happy with no matter my Tree child comes up with, even when it’s essentially the most hideous factor I’ve ever seen,” Rodriguez mentioned.
Simply as Timber have full freedom in crafting their very own garbs, they expressed feeling liberated within the function.
“The Stanford Tree is so completely different from different mascots as a result of we’re not technically a mascot,” Rodriguez mentioned. “In different faculties, being a mascot is portraying a personality and comes with very particular guidelines.”
Being the Tree additionally felt liberating to Weyen, because it gave him “a license to misbehave.”
“It was my job to interrupt the principles, to mess up, to fail, to be socially awkward and to be so violently myself that different folks felt that very same company to be bizarre and be themselves too,” Weyen mentioned.
“Being Tree is being the model of me that is a bit more outgoing, a bit of extra loopy, a bit of extra silly,” Rodriguez mentioned. “It’s only a method to deliver out that internal little one, that internal pleasure, that internal loopy that lots of people stow away as soon as they grow old.”