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April 15, 2011/Press Tip
Media Contact: Marla Carpenter, 336-770-3337,





Reader’s Digest puts Pickle ahead of Blue Blob and Peter the Anteater, just behind Purple Cow

WINSTON-SALEM – The Fighting Pickle mascot of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) has been named the second “most lovable college mascot” in the nation by Reader’s Digest magazine.  

In its May “Best of America” issue, the publication places the Pickle behind the Purple Cow of Williams College (Williamston, Mass.), but ahead of the Blue Blob of Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Peter the Anteater of the University of California-Irvine.

The Reader’s Digest “Best of America” issue highlights “the natural beauty of our landscapes, the strength of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and, of course, our collective sense of humor,” according to Reader’s Digest Global Editor-in-Chief Peggy Northrop.

The magazine also gives shouts out to other North Carolina-based “bests,” including another Winston-Salem resident. For more information, read the May issue of Reader’s Digest or see:  http://www.rda.com/news/reader%E2%80%99s-digest-reveals-the-%E2%80%9Cbest-of-america%E2%80%9D.

UNCSA Fighting Pickle

The Fighting Pickle (aka the Fighting Pickles) became the School of the Arts’ mascot in 1972 as the result of a campus-wide contest. At that time, the seven-year-old school was planning its first Homecoming celebration, and needed a name for its intramural football team. (UNCSA does not have intercollegiate athletic teams.)

No official records exist to explain how the mascot was chosen; only the memories of some alumni and stories passed down from one generation to the next remain. However, the origins of the Fighting Pickle have become something of a campus legend.

Over the years, various versions of a Fighting Pickle have been rendered, but in 2010, UNCSA’s communications & marketing office sponsored a contest to produce an official Pickle. The winning design was unveiled at an event held in the Pickle Jar, the school’s snack bar. Entertainment was provided by an a cappella group, the Sweet Pickles, and refreshments included fried pickles. Dina Perez, a graduate student studying costume design in UNCSA’s School of Design and Production, submitted the winning entry (http://www.uncsa.edu/visitorscenter/PickleMascot.htm).

Upon joining the School of the Arts in 2006, UNCSA Chancellor John Mauceri and his wife, Betty, adopted a Chocolate Lab and named her “Pickles.” For a photo, see: http://www.uncsa.edu/chancellor/

Reader’s Digest magazine, which is published in 50 print editions around the world, in 22 languages, reaching a total audience of 70 million, is the most widely read magazine in the world. The U.S. magazine was the 2009 winner of the American Society of Magazine Editors’ highest award for General Excellence and is now published on the iPad, Nook, and Kindle as well as the Zinio digital newsstand and in large print edition.

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from high school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.