Cortes is Tree

Feb. 25, 2010, 1:06 a.m.

Tree Week came to a close just before 4 a.m. Thursday morning with the announcement of Ben “Bollox” Cortes ‘11 as the next Stanford Band mascot.

For the average student, Tree Week means 10 days in February when a stroll through White Plaza at lunchtime might contain an unexpected jousting match or video game reenactment. But for a half-dozen daring souls, it means a chance at a year of glory, full of earnest displays of rapping talent, creativity and pure gall.

Cortes is Tree
Band members gathered early Thursday morning to await the announcement of the new Tree. Candidates have competed since last week to win the favor of current mascot Jon Strange '11. Ben Cortes '11 was named Tree. (MASARU OKA/Staff Photograper)

Since last Monday, the five saplings in the race for Tree have pulled numerous stunts, both in the public eye and the more private eye, in attempts to inhabit the shoes of the Stanford Band’s infamous mascot.

Despite the publicized nature of some stunts — many are announced via Facebook groups and take place in White Plaza where passersby can stop and watch — just as many stunts occur without common knowledge.

The student body’s reaction to Tree stunts reportedly has nothing to do with the selection process, which is said to be led only by the current Tree and Band management.

In the past few days, saplings have been closing the week with a variety of stunts, ranging from cringe-inducing to collaborative.

On Monday, Robbie Zimbroff ’12, with his chest hair waxed in the silhouette of a pine tree, chowed down in a hot dog eating contest alongside world champion Joey Chestnut in White Plaza during lunchtime. The large crowd watched as the contestants showed their best, and kept in line with Zimbroff’s patriotic theme by chanting, “U.S.A.” and “Shove ‘em in, Robbie!”

Tuesday’s rain put a damper on some stunts, including junior Ben Cortes’ “tribute” to the popular Twilight franchise.

In front of a small crowd outside of the Treehouse, Cortes tied a tourniquet around his arm, and with a needle, tube and syringe, drew a small amount of his own blood. He then mixed it in a glass with vodka and lemon juice and proceeded to drink his own — a literal Bloody Mary.

“This is the grossest shit I’ve ever seen,” said Jonah Rexer ’12, to which Cortes responded while gesturing to his arm, “There’s more where that came from.”

Wednesday’s lunchtime public stunt in White Plaza was of a more lighthearted and cooperative nature. Rachel Lindee ’12 and Chris Hadley ’10 performed an elaborate joint stunt in which they competed in a life-size recreation of the video game Mario Kart.

Cortes is Tree
Rachel Lindee '12 and Chris Hadley '10 (background) recreate the video game Mario Kart in a stunt on Wednesday afternoon. (MASARU OKA/Staff Photographer)

Lindee and Hadley, dressed as Yoshi and Luigi, respectively, rode around on tricycles in a scene that included the game’s trademark question mark boxes as well as bananas that made them fall to the ground. The stunt ended, in true franchise fashion, with a “brawl” that Lindee stepped in to stop in the name of cooperation.

“[Lindee] is way more creative than me, so I wanted to leech off her talents,” Hadley said of their collaboration.

Although competing for Tree is a unique opportunity for students, most saplings agree that it’s just as exhausting as it is exhilarating.

“It’s been a stressful week, but so much fun,” Lindee said. “But I no longer have the excuse to skip class and avoid homework.”

“I’m going to feel so relieved once it’s over,” Hadley agreed. “I had an awesome time, though, and there is nothing more I wanted to do this week besides Tree Week.”

Ellen Huet is currently a senior staff writer at The Daily; she joined the staff in fall 2008 and served one volume as managing news editor in fall and early winter of 2010-2011. Reach her at ehuet at stanford dot edu. Fan mail and sternly worded complaints are equally welcome.

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