Petition aims to save Willoughby South's mascot after school announces it will drop the Rebel logo

Posted at 4:51 PM, Aug 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-18 17:15:09-04

One community is not letting a long-standing and often controversial Civil War mascot go down without a fight.

So far, thousands of people have already signed an online petition to save Willoughby South's rebel soldier.

The district's superintendent announced  the mascot was being phased out late Thursday afternoon.

Since then, concern has been growing in Willoughby about the impact this might have.

One of the big buzzwords you now hear around town is history.

Does the removal of the South's rebel soldier, and its ties to the Civil War, essentially erase a significant moment in this country's story?

At her cupcake shop full of sweets, Dana VanLoan tackles an often sour topic - the Willoughby South Rebel mascot.

"I personally don't think it represents any hatred or non-welcoming," said VanLoan.

It's removal, according to the district's superintendent, was to help create a more inclusive community.

VanLoan, a Willoughby South grad herself, believes it only messes with history.

"I don't think you can erase history, it's part of what it was. So, and I'm sure academically it's going to be taught," said VanLoan.

Alan Hitchcox, a member of the Willoughby Historical Society, disagrees with VanLoan.

"I don't think we're erasing history with this, he's just becoming, the rebel and the whole concept is becoming history," said Hitchcox.

Hitchcox says he is okay with the rebel soldier getting kicked to the curb. He feels in light of recent events, like Charlottesville, it's time.

"It's part of history, it's not something we're proud about, we're not gonna forget it, but we don't need to celebrate it either," said Hitchcox.

"What it's being removed for, I don't think it represented that," said VanLoan.

Meantime, a committee made up of parents, students, staff and residents will design Willoughby South's new school mascot.

"Maybe get an entirely new name for the school rather than South, rebels," said Donald Lewis.

Lewis is a member of the Willoughby Historical Society. He suggests bringing back one of Willoughby's old school names - Union.

"At football games you can still have a cannon. Instead of being a Rebel, it'll be a union soldier," said Lewis.

In less than 24-hours, that Change.Org petition to save the solider racked up 3,000 signatures - proof people in Willoughby are passionate about this mascot's place in their community.