HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – It’s been a long time since the general public has been able to walk through the gates at Folsom Field to watch the Colorado Buffaloes play a football game.
It’s been even longer since Ralphie has run across the Folsom Field turf.
The wait is almost over, however.
Athletic director Rick George told BuffZone.com at Pac-12 media day that CU is planning for Ralphie VI to make her debut when the Buffs open the season Sept. 3 against Northern Colorado. Plans for Ralphie’s run are still being finalized.
“We have a Ralphie,” George said. “I am excited. Ralphie has been a part of our history for 50 years and we anticipate that will continue.”
Ralphie V retired after the 2019 season, but did not run at any of the final three home games that season. Ralphie V had become too wired up and was not responding to cues from the handlers like usual, so it was deemed unsafe to continue running her.
Ralphie V led the football team onto the field for 12 years before her retirement. Her last run was on Oct. 5, 2019, when the Buffs played Arizona.
That offseason, CU began the process of finding a replacement, but the COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role in extending that process. Even if a Ralphie VI was ready for the 2020 season, she would not have run because of COVID-19 restrictions.
It wasn’t until this spring and summer, however, that CU determined Ralphie VI to be ready.
“It was hard during the pandemic to work with Ralphie, just because we didn’t have the time and there were some things in place that didn’t allow group gatherings and things like that,” George said. “We’re right on schedule where we need to be, so I feel very good about that. We feel good about what (Ralphie program manager Taylor Stratton) has done and her team and I think our fans will be excited.”
CU debuted the Ralphie program in 1967 and five previous Ralphies have combined to run at 352 games – 296 at home, 24 bowl games, 19 Rocky Mountain Showdowns in Denver, nine road games and four Big 12 championship games.
Ralphie I ran 78 times from 1967-78; Ralphie II ran 53 times from 1978-87; Ralphie III ran 73 times from 1987-97; Ralphie IV ran 75 times from 1998-2008; and Ralphie V ran 76 times from 2008-19.