125th anniversary game to kick off at Sylva festival

Organizers of Western Carolina University’s yearlong observance of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the institution will be kicking off a game designed especially for local children Saturday, April 26, at the annual Greening Up the Mountains festival in Sylva.

Titled “Where’s Paws,” the activity is centered on Paws, the WCU Catamount mascot.

Paws, the Catamount mascot, is the subject of a safari contest for local children.

Paws, the Catamount mascot, is the subject of a safari contest for local children.

Beginning April 26 and continuing through June 26, several Jackson County merchants are inviting local children to scour their places of business to find images of Paws. Children who spot Paws’ furry face at five different participating locations and submit a form indicating where they spotted the mascot will be entered into a drawing to receive prizes. Local children also will be invited to get to meet Paws at a party later this year on the WCU campus.

In addition to the “Where’s Paws” contest for children, event organizers are encouraging other members of the campus and surrounding communities to snap a photo of themselves with Paws and upload it to the 125th Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WCU125.

“We feel that our neighboring communities are a big part of Western Carolina University,” said Jessica Graning, among the organizers of WCU’s 125th anniversary celebration festivities. “Through activities such as ‘Where’s Paws’ and our involvement in community events such as Greening Up the Mountains, we hope to bring WCU into the surrounding communities and welcome the community to the WCU campus.”

Participating businesses in the “Where’s Paws” contest so far are:

From Sylva – City Lights Bookstore, Eminence Salon, Finders Keepers, Friends of the Library Bookstore, Heinzelmanchen Brewery, In Your Ear Music Emporium, It’s By Nature, Jack the Dipper, Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, Livingston’s Photo, Nichols House Antiques, Radio Shack, Signature Brew, Survival Pride Clothing and Wilson Family Chiropractic.

From Dillsboro – Bradley’s General Store, Claymates, Cheddar Box Country Store, Country Traditions, Dillsboro Chocolate Factory, Dillsboro Town Hall, Dogwood Crafters, Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop, Oaks Gallery and Tunnel Mountain Crafts.

From Cashiers – Woof Gang Bakery, Mountain Dog Spa, the 1945 Old House, Zoller Hardware and the Corner Store.

From Cullowhee – Bob’s Minimart, Catamount Clothing and Gifts, Catamount Travel Center, Cullowings, Simply T’s, Suds Your Duds Laundromat and The Point Coffeehouse.

The “Where’s Paws” game is part of a yearlong celebration of Western Carolina University’s 125th anniversary that began in January. During an event held on campus, several hundred members of the campus and surrounding communities paused to reflect on the institution’s growth from a one-room schoolhouse with 18 students to a comprehensive regional university with an enrollment of more than 10,100.

The official 125th anniversary bash will be held in August, the month in which the school that became WCU was founded in 1889. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 26, with a picnic on the University Center lawn, old-fashioned games, music and photo opportunities in historical garb representative of the late 19th century.

The final celebration event is tentatively set for Friday, Dec. 5, in the Ramsey Center, with music from the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band (which will have just returned from its appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade), refreshments, remarks from the chancellor and special recognition for those who will graduate during the December 2014 commencement, the last graduating class of WCU’s 125th year.

Other events are being designed around traditional highlights of WCU’s annual calendar, such as spring commencement ceremonies, Mountain Heritage Day, Homecoming, alumni receptions across the state and the Southeast, and a variety of events in communities across Western North Carolina.

For more information about WCU’s 125th anniversary events, visit the website celebrate125.wcu.edu.