Aug 282011
Authors: Emily Kribs

CSU students and staff ventured to the “A” on Saturday to repaint the iconic letter white. The 87-year-old tradition typically takes place in September but was scheduled in August this year in response to Homecoming’s unusually early date.

Painting the “A” has been a tradition at CSU since 1924, and has been done every year since the Aggies became the school’s mascot. The “A” has become such a prominent feature that it has even become an aviation landmark, according to Lindsay Sell, the assistant director for Student Advancement Programs.

“The ‘A’ is representative of our history as an institution and as an agricultural college,” Sell said. “We’re painting the same ‘A’ they were painting in 1924, which I think is really cool.”

The majority of the volunteers were freshmen from the College of Agricultural Sciences, the football team and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

“It’s open to anyone who wants to,” Sell said. “We get a lot of first year students, but we get a fair amount of seniors too, who want it to check it off before they graduate.”

The students worked in teams of six to 12 to operate pumps, hoses and sprayers to mist white paint over the vegetation within the red tape outlining the “A.”

While lifting a 300-pound pump may seem like a chore, the task used to be more demanding.

“Back in the day, they’d come up to the base of the mountain. They’d have a [paint] bucket brigade, and they’d come up with mops,” said Marshall Frasier, a volunteer from the Alumni Association. “You know you hear about Tom Sawyer and white-washing fences, well, that’s what they did.”

The paint used to cover the 450 by 210 foot landmark is watered down to be non-toxic.

Despite the hard work and temperatures of up to 89 degrees, volunteers still managed to have fun, talking and laughing and daubing goatees and war paint on their faces.

“It just sounded like a good idea at the time,” said Ben Ott, a freshman horticulture major who assisted the second shift of volunteers on Saturday. “And I wanted to be a part of the tradition.”

“Plus,” he added, with a nod to the scenic perspective of Fort Collins, “it’s a hell of a view.”

Collegian Writer Emily Kribs can be reached at

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