Impossible to miss and looking quite noble with his hands on his hips, a giant inflatable Scotty decked out in a UCR shirt and tartan patterns beamed down on all who passed by the HUB and the Bell Tower area. Passerbys glanced quickly, chuckled to themselves and continued rushing to their classes as the inflatable mascot stood festively in honor of Scotty’s birthday on November 12.

As ASPB began setting up for the occasion, curious students began to slowly examine the well-known wheel of prizes that they had to offer, and the the rock-climbing wall which stood on the field next to the inflatable bear. Complete with a blue and gold balloon arch surrounding the booth and silver words spelling “Scotty” on top, ASPB provided students with a few booths and activities boasting free Homecoming gear, free mini cupcakes, a photo booth and a wall of memories on the other sides of the Bell Tower.

Although none of the booths were fully set up yet, a line quickly formed around the free cupcake table and in a matter of five minutes, it was stretched around to the other side of the Bell Tower. Provided by Casey’s Cupcakes, the mini cupcakes came in either red velvet, chocolate, vanilla or a special chocolate cupcake covered with gold edible paint and each had a small ASPB logo made of white chocolate on top.

Despite the event starting at 11:30 a.m., there wasn’t any music playing aside from the soft Christmas music trickling out of the speakers at the FIHS (Filipinos in Health Sciences) booth nearby. It wasn’t until 11:45 a.m. when Scotty showed up and began interacting with the students patiently waiting for cupcakes and hyping up the calm crowd by pulling a couple of dance moves and hugging random students.

On the other side of the Bell Tower, a photo booth decked out in gold and blue colored props was slowly gaining attraction by some of the guests. Students posed in giant blue boas, gold crowns, silly headbands with confetti attached to it and other UCR-themed props to take part in one of the few festivities provided that didn’t require waiting in a lengthy line.

Next to the photo booth were two giant chalkboards leaning against the tower, prompting students to write down their favorite memories at UCR. Responses included making new friends, moving out, being adventurous and even meeting a significant other, all reminiscent of how UCR brings us all together and allows us to create new memories.

Meanwhile, the Highlander Spirit Squad positioned themselves by the ASPB booth, ready to perform in honor of Scotty and keep the crowd lively as they waited in line. Glancing around, I realized that the Fluff Ice food truck that was once there five minutes ago had disappeared, and I was overcome with curiosity and disappointment as I was really looking forward to having some shaved snow. Still confused and hoping that it would return later on, my friend and I continued on with the event and lined up to spin the wheel laden with free homecoming goodies promoting the Bonfire on Friday such as paws, blankets and shirts.

At noon, however, the birthday celebration picked up as the Spirit Squad began dancing to the music blasting out of the speakers and at some points even Scotty decided to join in, shaking his butt and fist pumping to the beat.

After my friend had spun the wheel and earned a free homecoming-themed paw, we decided to head over to the line for free cupcakes which had significantly decreased in length by then and indulge in mini red velvet cupcakes. By now, the festivities had calmed down a little, and we ate our cupcakes on a bench as we observed the rock climbing participants while satisfying our sweet tooth.

The crowd began to sing “Happy Birthday” to Scotty as the birthday bear showed off his dance moves once again. Halfway through the song, everyone had joined in to sing and we were once again united to celebrate our beloved mascot’s special day.