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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Keggy the Keg Stands Out

Two writers explore the history behind Keggy the Keg, Dartmouth’s unofficial mascot.

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Whether he’s spotted in Baker-Berry Library or waddling around the Green, Keggy the Keg always stands out in a crowd.

Dartmouth’s favorite anthropomorphic keg — and the College’s unofficial mascot — Keggy came to life as a result of the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, a campus humor organization. Lily Easter ’25, an editor of the Jack-O, said two club members, Nic Duquette ’04 and Chris Plehal ’04, created Keggy in 2003. 

Before Keggy, the College used an Indigenous caricature as its mascot until 1974. After the Board of Trustees discouraged further use of that symbol, though, the College never adopted an official replacement. 

According to Jack-O editor Jonas Rosenthal ’25, Duquette and Plehal’s goal was to create “a single character [that] represents all of Dartmouth in its good and its bad, in the things that make it distinct and unique.”

“Something that’s completely unacceptable, completely unprintable, completely unsanctionable, but not racist, not sexist, not homophobic,” he said. “And so, that was Keggy.”

Jack-O remains in charge of all things Keggy and retains the character’s trademark rights, according to past reporting by The Dartmouth. Club members take turns dressing up in the  Keggy costume for campus events — such as Green Key, the Homecoming bonfire, Winter Carnival and Dimensions — and sell merchandise featuring Keggy.

Last week, Keggy made an appearance at Phi Delta Alpha fraternity’s annual Green Key Block Party. Keggy has been present at Block Party — held on the Friday afternoon of Green Key — every year for the past three years, according to Phi Delt president Jake Olson ’25. 

Olson said Keggy always “boost[s] student morale” when he arrives.

“Everyone knows who he is, and everyone is … happy to see him,” Olson said. “[Keggy puts] a smile on your face, so we always appreciate [Keggy] being around.”

Jack-O editor Natalie Halsey ’25 said some of her favorite memories with Keggy have come from seeing him at Block Party over the years. 

“He’ll do a little dance, sort of hop around,” she said. “Last year, the band at Block Party wrote a little song for Keggy. It was really cute.”

Despite being an unconventional mascot, Keggy has won the love of the campus community, according to Jack-O president Lily Arrom ’25. Even before she arrived at Dartmouth, Arrom said she was “making Keggy memes.”

“I loved Keggy a lot before I got here,” Arrom said. “It’s funny, because now, I’m actually responsible for Keggy.”

Across the Dartmouth community, “parents, professors and administrators” also appreciate Keggy, according to Rosenthal.

“Everyone loves Keggy,” he said. “I've spent a lot of time escorting Keggy around, and the reception is always so enthusiastic and so positive.” 

Arrom said Keggy’s appearance at the Homecoming bonfire last fall was particularly memorable for her, despite the pouring rain.

“It was … a very multigenerational experience. People were coming up [with] their toddler kids or … old[er] people were coming up,” Arrom said. “People just love seeing Keggy so much … it makes me happy that I get to help bring that to people.” 

Arrom said she hopes to bring Keggy to more events but explained that the preparation process can be difficult.

“It takes a lot to get him out of storage and … get him ready, find someone willing to usher him, basically … Keggy security,” Arrom said.

Maintaining the organization’s lone Keggy costume also requires work, Halsey said, adding that Keggy has undergone “some repairs” over the years. 

Even embodying Keggy comes with its own demands. According to Rosenthal, the student wearing the Jack-O’s costume also has to be “the life of the party.” 

“[Fans] want an animated Keggy, they want a really vital Keggy,” he said. “They want a Keggy who wants to take lots of pictures … no one wants the Keggy who needs to sit down often — as human as that might be.”

Halsey explained that the primary challenge in performing as Keggy is keeping the student in costume’s identity a secret. Jack-O members are not allowed to reveal who is wearing the costume, though Halsey said the club has found ways to dodge commonly-asked questions about Keggy’s identity.

“People are always asking us, ‘Who is in Keggy?,’” Halsey said. “But really, the answer is: there’s a little bit of Keggy in all of us.”

Olson said Jack-O’s efforts with Keggy demonstrate the initiative that students take in running campus social activities and events.

“We have lots of social events. We have lots of … systems that we, the students, have put in place,” Olson said. “So it kind of makes sense that we have an unofficial mascot, because a lot of what happens [on campus] is up to the students.” 

In terms of what Keggy represents to the College, Rosenthal said Keggy speaks to the distinctiveness of Dartmouth culture.

“I think Keggy does symbolize that Dartmouth students who are … brilliant and top [of the] class and very smart and go on to do all sorts of impressive things … approach learning as an enjoyable recreational activity,” he said. “Not as a competition, not as a conflict, not as a debate but as one long party for four years.”