BRUNSWICK

You’d think a hundred years would be time enough to name a bear.

It was Jan. 18, 1913, when an assembly of Bowdoin College alumni decided to adopt the polar bear as the school’s official mascot.

Four years earlier, famous arctic explorer and Bowdoin alum Robert Peary — Bowdoin class of 1877 — officially “discovered” the geographic site of the North Pole.

Peary’s exploit was good enough for the Bowdoin College Alumni Association: During a meeting at the Sherman Square Hotel at 71st and Amsterdam in New York City, the alumni voted in favor of the western hemisphere’s largest carnivorous land mammal.

In the century since, he’s been known simply as “The Polar Bear.”

Almost unthinkable now, prior to 1913 Bowdoin didn’t even have a school identity. Neither did many other schools.

Instead of names or mascots, they were known only by their colors, according to Doug Cook, Bowdoin’s news and media relations director.

Like Harvard University’s ubiquitous “The Crimson,” the soon-to-be-Polar Bears were known simply as “The White.”

To celebrate his centennial, The Polar Bear warmed up Thursday with an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Also featured on the show was Fortune Magazine managing editor Andy Serwer, a 1981 Bowdoin graduate.

(A revolving cast of charactors provides the mascot’s animus; Matt O’Donnell, associate editor of Bowdoin Magazine, is the human inside the fur-and-“B”-tunic for this trip.)

This morning, as part of what has been dubbed The Polar Bear’s “NYC Heritage Tour,” in homage to the alumni meeting in 1913 that gave rise to his very presence, The Bear took a birthday skate on midtown Manhattan landmark Bryant Park pond.

Happy Birthday, Bear.

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