If Bill Dann’s not careful, he might be accused of getting a little squirrelly.
Dann, a Howard songwriter, penned a tune last year with his longtime collaborator, Altoona musician Jack Servello, about a purple-tinted squirrel caught by a Jersey Shore couple.
In the fine tradition of novelty songs, “Thor, the Purple Squirrel from Jersey Shore,” took off, gaining airplay, including from the famed Dr. Demento. An accompanying YouTube video appeared on a Travel Channel special.
Dann would have been nuts to expect to replicate his squirrel success, but now he’s got another rodent muse: Sneezy.
Sneezy is one of Penn State’s celebrated beggar squirrels. But this chubby Old Main lawn resident has a special claim to fame.
Last fall, Penn State freshman Mary Krupa began regularly hand-feeding Sneezy, so named because of sneezing sounds the squirrel makes while searching for acorns and not from any resemblance to a short, plump, Disney dwarf.
Oh yeah, and Sneezy wears hats.
Krupa, whom Onward State called a “squirrel whisperer”, makes miniature headgear and, with don’t-try-this-at-home-kids verve, plops them on her female friend’s furry crown. And Sneezy, identified by a red tuft on her tail, agreeably models.
Featured selections, captured on camera, have included a propeller beanie, an Uncle Sam hat, an acorn beret, a party hat, a Penn State cap, a football helmet, a princess tiara and a cowboy hat.
Sneezy even has her own Facebook page, now with 8,890 “likes” and full of fashion photos.
Skeptics might cry “Photoshop,” but there’s a YouTube video of Krupa placing a Santa hat on Sneezy. Krupa’s quirky hobby, and Sneezy’s sartorial splendor, have gone international. The French children’s magazine Science & Vie Découvertes published a story about the unlikely pair. In the U.S., Jack and Jill magazine added to Sneezy’s press clippings.
Then along came Dann.
“I thought I was done with squirrel songs until learning of Penn State’s famous squirrel ‘Sneezy,’” he wrote in an email.
“Not being able to resist, I wrote the lyrics and sent them to [Servello] who worked up a nice tune to the novelty.”
Like Thor, Sneezy has her own YouTube video , which is closing on 2,000 hits since it was posted last week.
“To say that she wears many hats is no exaggeration. She’s made her mark and many friends among the Nittany Nation,” says one stanza of “Sneezy the Penn State Squirrel,” going on to wish for more than one full stomach from the parade of hats.
“We’re hoping Berkey Creamery will name her in a flavor. Something filled with crunchy nuts that everyone can savor.”