On its Way to Rentschler Field for the Game

Members of Purdue’s Reamer Club, assigned to maintain the school’s Boilermaker Special mascot, put the finishing touches on the train ahead of the final leg up to Storrs

A funny thing happened on the way to the UConn-Purdue football game this past weekend. Joel Barlow 2018 grad Adam Boczar, a senior at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana studying aerospace/aeronautical engineering, brought nine of his classmates who had thus far traveled nearly 850 miles over a two-day period (stopping in Cleveland on the way), along with their 27-foot official mascot of the university, a massive truck/train called the Boilermaker Special, and stopped over for dinner with their parents.   

It was indeed quite a sight. Neighbors came out of their homes to see a train engine on the street and cars passing by gave a double-take before slowing down to take in the full view of the Boilermaker Special.  It’s not every day a train parks in front of a house in lower Easton, or for anywhere in Easton for that matter.

Adam Boczar poses in front of the Boilermaker Special at the game with his parents Laurie and David and sister Valerie (JBHS 2015)

The 10-person team represented Purdue’s Reamer Club, which has been active at the school for nearly 100 years and is dedicated to observing the traditions of the school, supporting major and Olympic sports, and developing school spirit. One of the club’s major tasks is maintaining the official mascot of Purdue the Boilermaker Special VII (and its smaller counterpart the Xtra Special VIII).

Adam posing in front of Purdue’s Boilermaker Special before the UConn-Purdue football game

After a quick dinner in lower Easton, the group quickly put all of the finishing touches on the Boilermaker that would not be practical over their long journey, the smokestack, lights, wheel covers, etc., in lightning fashion somewhat reflective of a NASCAR pit crew. Saying their goodbyes, they traveled up to Storrs and made the rounds around campus before retiring for the night ahead of the game the next day. The trek to UConn represented the farthest east the Reamer Club had ever traveled with the Boilermaker Special. A good deal of planning and organizing went into the trip.

Fans line up to pose for pictures in front of the Boilermaker Special with Reamer Club members who oversaw the 1700-mile four day trip from Indiana to Connecticut and back

Staying in the same vicinity for the night as the football team, the Reamers and the Boilermaker Special led the parade of Purdue players and the coaching staff from their hotel in Hartford to Rentschler Field. At Rentschler the Reamers parked the Boilermaker outside of the entrance gate for the fans of both teams. With a good showing of Purdue fans, the Boilermaker was very popular for pictures ahead of the game.  

Following the game the Reamers disassembled the smokestack, lights and other details, stowing them safely away, and began their long ride back to Indiana. Stopping in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Saturday at the home of another Reamer member, the group of 10 made it back safely to Purdue Sunday evening after a whirlwind, four-day, 1700-mile trip east. 

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