OGDEN -- One of the first "family members" Henry Lewis met after his June 26 birth was Waldo, the Weber State Wildcat.
Dad Sean Lewis, 33, of Ogden, posed a cardboard cutout of Waldo next to his newborn, and snapped a picture for a WSU alumni contest, Travelin' With Waldo. Contestants take a Waldo with them on their summer adventures and snap a photo to document the mascot's travels.
"My wife and I are both alumnists and big fans of Weber State, and we both love it a ton," said Lewis, a Class of 2008 geology major. "We got the cutout in the alumni magazine, and we wanted to show our school pride. We took Waldo to the hospital, because that's an important place we went this summer."
Other contestants have taken their Waldos to San Francisco to pose near the Golden Gate Bridge; to New Zealand to check in at a hillside Hobbit house; on a hiking trip to an area near Lake Tahoe; and to a music festival in California wine country.
Michael Gourley, Class of 1965 education major, snapped a shot of his Waldo keeping him company after knee-replacement surgery.
"Waldo and me got a new knee," said Gourley, 77, of West Jordan, who is retired from a teaching career in the Jordan School District.
"I was just reading through the alumni magazine and thought it would be kind of fun," Gourley said of the Travelin' With Waldo contest.
"I cut it out and pieced it together, like doing paper dolls, just on a lark. I was stuck in the hospital, but I'm four weeks out now and able to do quite a bit. Waldo is on my kitchen table now, but we're going fishing in Strawberry Reservoir before too long."
Amber Robson, WSU Alumni Association director of marketing and membership, came up with the contest idea.
"The idea came from the traveling gnome, but Waldo is so much more friendly," Robson said.
The traveling gnome started as a 1980s prank, for which someone stole a ceramic garden gnome, and later returned it with photographs taken of it visiting widespread tourist attractions. The prank has been repeated around the world, and a gnome is now the spokes-statue for a travel website,
"We thought, 'How fun would it be to have a traveling Waldo to take with you," Robson said. "We decided to put him in our alumni magazine as a perforated Waldo you could put together."
A Waldo can also be downloaded from the WSU alumni website and printed out. Non-alumni are welcome to join in. Photos can be submitted through the website and will be posted on the WSU Alumni Association's Facebook page. The photo that gains the most "likes" each month will win its owner an Apple iPod Nano. The contest continues through August.
"I wanted to get Weber State out there in the community and with alumni," Robson said, of the contest. "I wanted to connect our alumni and let them know they are part of a community."
Priscilla Angulo, class of 2010, and pursuing a WSU professional communication master's, feels the spirit. She packed a Waldo for her trip to Washington, D.C.
""I read the magazine right before leaving for the trip," said Angulo, 25, of Ogden.
She posed her Waldo for pictures at the Washington Monument, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. monument.
"Waldo is still in my camera bag. I am carrying him around with me just in case I end up anyplace really cool."
Curtis Alldredge, class of 2009 English major, posed his Waldo on an Evanston, Wyo., fire truck. Alldredge, 39, is a technical writer there and a firefighter.
"I think Weber State doesn't get the credit it deserves," he said. "You hear a lot about the U of U, Utah State and BYU, but the smaller schools don't get recognized for how great they are. You can get a great education at smaller universities."
Scott Wiser, class of 2008 integrated studies major, took Waldo on a work trip to California, and posed the wildcat at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium.
"I can't wait to see other people's pictures," said Wiser, 29, of Washington Terrace. "Waldo is at my house now, the one that is intact. One Waldo broke."
Brian Wortman, of South Ogden, is not a WSU alumni, but taped a neighbor's Waldo on his dirt track race car.
"It's definitely been fun," said Wortman, 33. "For the last race, I drew a helmet on Waldo, and a safety harness. I folded him around a roll bar, and that's where he stays."
Gourley said he didn't have time for social activities while at Weber State in the early '60s because of an early morning job with Highland Dairy and classes and labs.
"I didn't get to many dances or activities, because I was married and supporting a family, and trying to pay for schooling, but it was a great opportunity," he said. "Weber State has really grown since then, and I am proud to be an alumni."