First Person: A conversation with the Stanford Tree | News | Palo Alto Online |


First Person: A conversation with the Stanford Tree

Jonathan Strange talks with Lisa Van Dusen about his role as the Stanford Tree

Watch video

Stanford grad Jonathan Strange talks to Lisa Van Dusen about what it takes to be the Stanford Tree, mascot of the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, in anticipation of his trip to the New Year's Day Rose Bowl between Stanford and Wisconsin and the 50th reunion of the Stanford Band.

Strange first thought he might want to be the Stanford Tree when he was in third grade after spotting the band mascot while attending various Stanford athletic events. Stanford Trees make their own costumes and Strange, standing amidst several other Tree costumes, described how he learned to weld and sew his own 45-pound tree costume, now rather "janky" from use since he became the Tree in the fall of 2009.

As the "epicenter of school spirit," Strange will be at the Rose Bowl, tag-teaming with the current Tree, Nicoletta von Heidegger, during the 5-1/2 mile parade. Strange is like those birthday candles that won't blow out. He just keeps being The Tree.

After his official stint, one Tree went abroad, then the Tree during the Fiesta Bowl in 2012 was fired. And then there are Stanford breaks. Strange just keeps on being in the right place at the right time in the right costume with the right spirit. As an aspiring city manager who is about to start a graduate program at Cal State East Bay in Public Administration, his training in inspiring enthusiasm and excitement in large groups of people will stand him in good stead.

Interview by Lisa Van Dusen. Video by Veronica Weber.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm

What a fun interview! I enjoyed hearing about how each tree is for one year only. I expect Jonathan Strange has a brilliant future in front of him.

Like this comment
Posted by some guy
a resident of another community
on Jan 1, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Stanford needs to get a real mascot, something with a face, like a squirrel or a stallion. The Stanford Squirrels would be a good mascot. The Cardinal isn't a mascot, it's a corporate cop-out. A proper mascot should have a giant papier-mache head. Trees don't have eyes or a mouth, it just looks ridiculous. The Stanford cheerleaders have done a good job at keeping the team hyped up for victory this year, even though they had to work with a tree.

Like this comment
Posted by Boooring!
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jan 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm

who cares?

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Pluto's appears to close after more than two decades in downtown Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 15 comments | 7,526 views

Edible Education – Free Course - UC Berkeley Online
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,698 views

Local Pols Debate Climate
By Sherry Listgarten | 1 comment | 1,307 views

Letting Christmas Linger
By Cheryl Bac | 5 comments | 825 views