The Auburn University mascot is returning in his orange and blue Santa suit for an annual Christmas event to take pictures with members of the Auburn Family.
Aubie Claus will be at the Gogue Performing Arts Center from Nov.12 -15. Groups have reserved time slots through a pre-qualification lottery to spend time with Aubie and have their picture taken by Village Photographers.
“It’s a super fun event where we get to see a lot of the Auburn Family, and they get to start their Christmas season off with Aubie,” said Bailee Sneed, the director of development for the “Aubie Program.”
The “Aubie Program” has put precautions in place according to the Center for Disease Control recommendations, the Alabama Department of Public Health and Auburn University policies to host the event safely.
Sneed said the “Aubie Program” wanted to do what they could to preserve the tradition to their best of their ability.
Before COVID-19 limited the capacity, Aubie Claus hosted between 900 and 1,000 families over three days. However, this year, the precautionary efforts have limited the capacity to 590 families over four days.
“We would rather decrease the number than cancel the event,” Sneed said.
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The beloved tiger has been a part of several other events this year including football games and the Tiger Tour.
“It’s been nice for a lot of people to see Aubie,” Sneed said. “He is a bright spot in their day.”
In the past, appearances by Aubie have involved physical contact.
“Aubie is a very hands-on mascot; he loves to hang out with people and hug on people,” Sneed said. “He’s had to readjust his character a little bit and be at a farther distance.”
The poses for the photographs at Aubie Claus this year will look different in order to comply with safety protocols. Instead of a hug, people may pose back to back with Aubie or stand at a further distance in photos.
“We have to remind people to keep a good distance,” Sneed said. “We have to make sure we’re protecting Aubie and protecting ourselves.”
In spite of all of the adjustments, Sneed is grateful to be a part of the “Aubie Program” and continue helping Aubie make appearances around the community, she said.
Sneed said in his essence, Aubie is the goodwill ambassador for Auburn University, and having him bring joy during difficult times is important.
“It’s been awesome to see the Auburn community have so much gratitude for us,” Sneed said.
Groups typically receive their photographs a week after the event. Sneed said Auburn families often use their photo from Aubie Claus as their annual Christmas card picture.
Coloring pages, T-shirts and the Aubie calendar are also available for purchase at the event.
Aubie calendar sales and ticketed events such as Aubie Claus raise funds toward the Aubie program, which allows Aubie to compete in the UCA Mascot National Championship. Aubie has won the competition nine times.
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