Despite a low turnout, the long-time CSU tradition of painting the “A” continued on Thursday as volunteers spent the entire day painting the hillside.
And, by the time the sun was ready to set, each dedicated painter resembled the considerable letter they had recently whitewashed. Yet, their pasty appearances did not seem to hinder their dedication to the nearly century-old chore at hand.
“We’re keeping our heads up and getting it done,” said Sigma Alpha Epsilon President David Sparling. “It’s important.”
Sigma Alpha Epsilon, or SAE, a fraternity currently not recognized by the university, has been the motivating organization behind the annual tradition since 1982, and this year the fraternity has teamed up with the CSU Student Alumni Connection.
“It’s one of the longest standing traditions at CSU,” Sparling said. “It ties us back to our heritage as a school and helps us remember where we came from.”
The “A” represents CSU’s past moniker, the Aggies, and has also become a representation of the football team’s first game at Hughes Stadium.
“We do it every year before the first home game,” Sparling said.
The “A” also holds meaning for Fort Collins’ residents, he said.
“The ‘A’ means a lot to the Fort Collins community because it has been here for so long, and a lot of people who live here did go to school here,” SAE member Cory Pearson said. “So, everybody has a connection to it.”
Painting the “A” takes about 300 gallons of paint and is not a quick-hit project.
“It’s been going slow, but we have been consistent and organized all day,” SAE Risk Manager Chad Prest said.
And this year may have been moving more leisurely than previous years due to the rather minimal attendance.
“There have been about 20 people so far; we’ve had a surprisingly low turnout,” Sparling said.
Yet, despite the obstacles, it’s the finished product that’s important to Prest and the rest of the “A” crew.
“It’s a symbol you just want to take in,” Prest said. “Especially if you partake in painting the ‘A’, you know how much work and dedication you put into it.”
Associate news managing editor Jessi Stafford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.