Campus life can be a monotonous, a seemingly endless cycle of lectures, classes and exams. After weeks of watching the campus squirrels for entertainment, what better to add excitement to your campus walks than a bright orange T. rex?
Briden Perrington began visiting campus at the beginning of the spring semester to spend time with his friends outside of his car-detailing hobby and his former job at a car wash. After being inspired by comedy videos, Perrington bought an inflatable T. rex costume to wear on his campus excursions.
“I’m 100% an extrovert so I’m out there. I will talk to strangers, I do not care,” Perrington said. “Honestly, I just thought the dinosaur was weird and people wouldn’t expect it, so being able to surprise UTD students just makes them feel like their day will be different. And they’ll be smiling and recording, taking pictures. It’s a lot of fun.”
Perrington said that roaming around campus in the costume has allowed him to make genuine connections with students. He claims that many students prefer the friendly dinosaur over the school’s official mascot.
“I love the reactions and the communication with people,” Perrington said. “A lot of people like [the dinosaur] over Temoc because he’s literally a comet. He’s a rock. Just a rock. Some people tell me the dinosaur should just be the next mascot.”
Sophomore psychology major Marisa Pringle helps keep Perrington’s Instagram account active by interacting with fans and occasionally taking pictures of the dinosaur in the wild. The account recently reached 1,000 followers.
“Working with the UTD dinosaur is such a fun and exciting experience because the goal of the UTD dinosaur is to spread positivity,” Pringle said.
Outside of wishing students luck on their exams and providing hugs, Perrington said that the dinosaur is often invited to club events and even shop openings. He attended the opening of Cinnaholic, a plant-based cinnamon roll shop in Richardson.
“[The events] just mean that I’m getting out there,” Perrington said. “I didn’t know that this would ever be this serious. I thought I was just going to make an Instagram, and now people are asking me to go to events, and when I first started, that first month was super busy with all the events.”
Despite being a social butterfly, Perrington said the anonymity of the dinosaur has boosted his confidence. Another positive outcome is the comfort he has received from his Instagram followers.
“There’s a lot of support on Instagram,” Perrington said. “Like I was going through a lot a few days ago and people were messaging me things like ‘just letting you know, we are here for you.’ [Social media] just puts me in contact with people off campus or students that haven’t seen me, and sometimes they text me their schedule or their location, and I’ll try to get over there.”
Despite recently purchasing a Triceratops costume, Perrington said it is not as popular as the original costume due the lack of interaction it receives. Standing at 6 feet tall, it is harder for Perrington to move in the Triceratops costume due to its short appearance.
“Honestly, something little can make me laugh,” Perrington said. “My sense of humor is all over the place.”
Perrington is moving out of Texas on March 10, and hopes to form a dinosaur squad to carry out his legacy of positivity and weirdness. He has three people interested and is actively trying to recruit more dinosaurs.
“There’s a lot of bad things going on in the world, but even if we can make one person’s day a little brighter, it means that we’re working towards good and more positivity,” Pringle said.