Barry Mask, who served as the first Aubie, said the idea of the mascot was just an “experiment.” Photo courtesey of Auburn University
Barry Mask, who served as the first Aubie, said the idea of the mascot was just an “experiment.” Photo courtesy of Auburn University

Aubie celebrates 35th birthday

Published 4:51pm Friday, February 28, 2014

Birthdays ending in a 5 or 0 are almost always celebrated.

On Friday one of the more decorated collegiate mascots in the country celebrated its 35th birthday.

Auburn University’s Aubie the tiger made its debut 35 years ago when a young man from Alexander City took a shot at an experiment.

“I can’t believe the time has gone by so quickly,” said Elmore County resident Barry Mask who served as Auburn’s first Aubie. “I remember that year so vividly. It really was an experiment to develop Auburn’s brand. Aubie came on and has grown into what it is now.”

Aubie recently earned its eighth national title as the United Cheerleader Association’s top college mascot.

“I don’t I would have ever dreamed Aubie would become such a superstar in the country,” Mask said. “After winning his eighth national title, I think Aubie is truly America’s mascot.”

In 1979 there was an open tryout for Aubie, so Mask jumped at the opportunity. And when Mask was named head Aubie, he molded the mascot into what he represents today.

“I’m so proud of the guys who have come after me,” said Mask, who is the CEO of the Alabama Association of Realtors. “They are out to prove over and over again that Aubie is the best in the land.”

In Aubie’s first year, Mask was primarily tasked with making all of the appearances from club functions to parades.

“He really came on to become the one ambassador of the university,” Mask said. “Toward the end of my first year, it was really hard to make all the appearances.”

As head Aubie, Mask had two other friends of Aubie – Bob Harris and Viki Leach McGinty — to give him time for classwork. Now there is a head Aubie and multiple friends of Aubie.

Aubie continues to make hundreds of visits across the state and the country serving as the ambassador of Auburn University, and it was Mask who laid the foundation.

Editor's Picks