The KU graduate who drew the current Jayhawk mascot 50 years ago was honored with a parade, gifts and cake.
Fifty years ago, Harold "Hal" Sandy created a million-dollar image.
A year or so later, after graduating from Kansas University, Sandy sold rights to the design for $250.
"He thought it was a lot of money back then," said Mike Reid, manager of the KU Bookstore, which bought the copyright from Sandy.
In the years since, sales of shirts, hats, shorts, posters, cups, blankets and other items decorated with the mythical Jayhawk drawn by Sandy have earned KU millions of dollars.
That financial blunder generated personal dividends; nothing that Sandy can deposit in a bank. But there's value in knowing an image he crafted was beneficial to KU.
At noon Thursday, Sandy was feted with a parade on Jayhawk Boulevard. The band played. The Jayhawk mascot (human version) entertained. Celebrants ate cake.
The event marked the 50th birthday of Sandy's drawing of the Jayhawk and 50th anniversary of the KU Bookstore, which had a hand in making Sandy's version of the bird a universal symbol for KU loyalists.
"It's all hard to believe," Sandy said.
KU student Henry Maloy drew the first Jayhawk in 1912.
At the end of World War II, Sandy was enrolled at KU to study journalism. A friend, KU public relations director Ed Browne, convinced him to draw a more friendly version of the bird.
"Until that time, all the Jayhawk mascots looked angry and ready to eat somebody," Sandy said.
He produced the "smiling" Jayhawk -- sometimes referred to as the "Sandy" Jayhawk -- in 1946. After taking a job with an Independence, Mo., advertising agency, Sandy surrendered rights to the fledgling KU Bookstore.
In 1978, the university acquired the design from the bookstore and obtained a federal trademark on the bird. Royalties on sales of Jayhawk merchandise provide hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for athletic and academic scholarships for KU students.
Sandy, who lives in Westwood Hills, ran an ad agency from 1952-69. He sold the firm to concentrate on consulting, but he never surrendered appreciation for his bird.
On Thursday, his loyalty was rewarded with a birthday present -- a Sandy Jayhawk shirt and tie.