Our Greatest Tradition
The Purdue Varsity Glee Club has many strong traditions, some of which are described on this page, and others that will be carried on only by the mouths of its members. There are many that the public has come to love and expect in Glee Club performances, and many that most of our audience members will never be aware of. The most important tradition, though, is one that is difficult to describe.
The Varsity Glee Club has been entertaining audiences for more than 100 years with fun, lively, varied musical programs that appeal to audience members young and old alike. But it’s not necessarily our music that is our proudest tradition.
Each of us has always maintained a traditional clean-cut look that complements our timeless white tie and tails tuxedo. This unchanging appearance has been a refreshing break from the varied styles of the decade for our audiences throughout our history. But our appearance, while noteworthy, is not the defining tradition.
It is our commitment to excellence in all we do that defines the Purdue Varsity Glee Club. Not just excellence in showmanship, but excellence in character as well. Glee Clubbers have set themselves apart both within the group and beyond, creating a name for this organization that is synonymous with versatility, commitment, energy, enthusiasm and character. That is the Glee Club’s greatest tradition, and it is the goal of every Glee Club member to further this tradition of excellence.
The Purdusirs and Purdusires
The Glee Club is fortunate to have, along with the Purdusirs, an organization composed of outstanding university administration, faculty and staff members. This organization, known as the Purdusires, is also composed of 12 members, individually assigned to each committee. These individuals graciously volunteer to act as advisors and counselors to their respective Sirs and other Glee Club members. A Sire serves as someone with whom a Sir or other Glee Club member interacts through many varied activities, both formal and informal. The Purdusires also represent a commitment on the part of Purdue administration, faculty and staff to offer a model for achievement and success and an inspiration as a mentor and friend.
The Tradition of Mingling
It is traditional for the men of the Glee Club to spend a short time mingling with audience members after all full concerts and other appropriate performances. Mingling gives the men of the Glee Club an opportunity to become better acquainted with the audience and also gives the men a chance to show their appreciation to the audience for supporting the Glee Club.
Many members of Glee Club audiences are Purdue, PMO or Glee Club alumni who are interested in hearing about new developments on campus. Mingling is an important part of each Glee Club performance. Each individual is responsible for nurturing the rapport between the Glee Club and its audience.
As “goodwill ambassadors” of the university, members of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club serve as a nostalgic link with the past, an encouraging example of the present and, a positive image for the future.
Glee Club Pete
The traditional mascot of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club is Glee Club Pete. Glee Club Pete is “Purdue Pete” decked out in the full dress uniform. What many people don’t realize, however, is that this symbol started as a joke.
In 1954, Dr. Al Stewart and the Glee Club were performing for the Rotary Club of North Manchester, Ind. Always on the lookout for the opportunity for a good-natured prank, the men of the local Rotary Club decided to play a little joke on the group. One particularly creative Rotarian by the name of Slim Warren took the traditional Purdue Pete and made a few modifications. Slim fashioned a 4-foot replica of Pete dressed in the complete Glee Club full-dress outfit and positioned him at the side of the stage. Dr. Stewart and the guys liked this fellow so much that they adopted him as their official mascot. Thus, on January 28, 1954, in North Manchester Glee Club Pete was born. He continues to symbolize the Glee Club spirit of music and fun wherever he appears.
White carnation boutonnieres are traditionally worn by the Glee Club at every full-dress concert. They are worn on the left lapel of the full-dress uniform, centered and approximately two inches from the top of the lapel.
After each concert it is customary for a Glee Club member to pin his carnation on the lady of his choice along with a kiss. Thus the carnations act as much more than just a decoration for the full-dress outfit — the carnation becomes a token of appreciation for audience members to take home as a reminder of their evening with the Glee Club.
The Varsity Glee Club’s medallion is one of the first items on the Glee Clubber’s full-dress uniform that is noticed by audience members after a Glee Club show. The original medallions worn by the Glee Club were furnished by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in thanks for charity work done for MS. In 1990, the NMSS discontinued the production of these medallions, and they ceased to become a part of the full-dress uniform.
In the fall of 1991, the Glee Club acquired new medallions with the Purdue seal on the front and Glee Club Pete on the back in commemoration of the group’s upcoming centennial (1893-1993). The Purdue seal has two prominent features: the griffin, which symbolized strength in medieval heraldry, and the three-part shield, which represents the three stated aims of Purdue — education, research and service. As Purdue’s “finest ambassadors,” it is appropriate that the seal is worn as a prominent part of the Varsity Glee Club’s full-dress uniform.