Chris Hogan, owner of the Hogan family farm, said his friend likes to eat the leaves during games because he’s a vegetarian and there’s not much else for him to do.
Rameses, UNC’s live ram mascot, has attended Tar Heel home football games every fall since 1924.
Hogan, whose family takes care of Rameses, said the ram undergoes a regular grooming process to prepare for a game.
“We’ll wash him with Dawn soap, then clean him up good and paint his horns. We usually do that the day before the game. And then the day of, it’s pretty much just touch up if you wish,” Hogan said.
Hogan said the paint used for Rameses’ horns is made of latex and is as harmless to his horns as nail polish is to nails. Washing the ram, he said, is not as easy.
“You can imagine washing a 200-pound ram,” he said.
“We usually use warm water on him, so not to give him too much of a shock, and then just scrub him down good with our hands, and he cleans up. I mean, he’ll be white as a snowball when we finish.”
The Hogans transport Rameses to each home game in the back of a trailer. Someone always accompanies the ram in the back seat. Hogan said they traverse much of the city — going through both downtown Carrboro and Chapel Hill — before arriving a couple hours ahead of kickoff for festivities around the stadium.
Sophomore Courtney Pisano said she enjoys seeing Rameses on the sideline at football games.
“I do like that we have a real mascot. It’s, like, something tangible so that I can know what it is — it’s kind of nice,” Pisano said.
Spencer Arrowood, a junior, said rams look majestic.
“I’d say it symbolizes what the University stands for,” Arrowood said
After leaving the Carolina Inn, Rameses travels to Tar Heel Town, the tailgate set up by the General Alumni Association between the Sonja Haynes Stone Center and Genome Science Building.
“The game’s going to start 12 o’clock Saturday. I hope to be (at Tar Heel Town) by 10:30,” Hogan said.
Hogan said he parks near the Rams Head Deck and walks with Rameses through the tunnel onto the field.
The beginning of the season is a little hot for Rameses, Hogan said.
“August and September, it’s pretty warm and wearing a wool blanket with the wool coat he’s already got,” he said. “But he does pretty well with that.”
Hogan said this time of year is better, since it is cooler outside.
“My mother makes (the blanket),” Hogan said.
“We’re in the process of making a new one right now, as a matter of fact. Her name’s Caroline Hogan, and she’s been doing it for, gracious, since the late ’50s. So it’s been a real tradition that she’s done it. We hope to debut the new one at the Miami game.”
Hogan said that even though the ram runs with a herd of bulls and cows, he’s the aggressor. One of the rams on the farm, Hogan said, butted heads with his father, who was Rameses at the time, and broke one of his horns, killing his father.
“(Rams) literally will back up about 30 feet apart and run together to butt heads. They stand up on their back legs and just hit — sounds like a boxcar running together,” Hogan said.
Hogan said game days are long for Rameses.
“We’ll leave here two-and-a-half, three hours prior to kickoff, three hours at the ball game,” he said. “So you’re looking at a seven- to eight-hour event when you do it.”
Hogan said he is taking special care to hide Rameses from potential Duke pranksters leading up to Saturday’s Homecoming game.
“A number of the family’s worried about Duke stealing the ram this year, so we’re going to hide him somewhere this year,” Hogan said. “Duke’s gotten him before, East Carolina’s gotten him before. State’s tried to get him before, but I don’t think they got him.”
The Hogan family continues the tradition because of the joy it brings Carolina fans.
“As soon as we pull out of that driveway, people start smiling, taking pictures, and it’s a fun thing to do. And, it seems, people have really enjoyed it,” Hogan said.
“I don’t care if they’re 2 years old or 92 years old, the first thing they do is smile when they see him. That’s really why we do it, and it’s just been a lot of fun.”