For those already cursing 2016 for doling out hit after hit of bummers, news came on Tuesday that UNT’s cherished good luck charm Lucky the Albino Squirrel was killed in a hit-and-run traffic incident. As the social media mourning continues, here is a look back at the life and legacy of the unofficial UNT mascot. Read on for more...

Universities are the perfect place for bizarre myths and rituals to emerge, what with anxious students and expanding worldviews, and UNT is no exception. We’ve written about some of UNT’s wacky mascot history and even talked a bit about the albino squirrel as one of Denton’s mythical creatures, but it gets even weirder than you might think.

As almost any UNT student or administrator can tell you, legend has it that catching a glimpse of the albino squirrel means you are destined to get an ‘A’ on your next exam, or maybe even Ace the semester. The magical rodents – and there are maybe more than one – are usually spotted around the vicinity of Willis Library, where desperate students stalk the critter while somehow managing to avoid entering the library. The revered rodent has their own Albino Squirrel Preservation Society club, an annual calendar, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a Willis Library memorial, a signature drink, and the furry phenomenon was almost officially declared the secondary mascot of UNT in 2006. Not to be outdone, now UT Austin claims their own GPA-boosting albino squirrel… Dang hipsters.

So where did this wacky Albino Squirrel worship start? The first albino squirrel "Thelonius" was sighted on the UNT campus around 2000, which led to the formation of the Albino Squirrel Preservation Society chapter, though he went missing sometime in 2003. "Baby" was spotted in 2004 but killed by a red-tailed hawk the week before the start of the fall 2006 semester. But "Baby's Baby" was soon seen near Maple Hall in May 2007, much to the relief of the campus. Since then, there seem to be several albino squirrels sighted across the UNT grounds, which maybe explains how “Lucky” earned his nickname.

After an absolutely roller-coaster year, we’re glad this sad story at least has a hopeful epilogue. If you want to read about the zany Christmases of Denton past, then check out our article from last season. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, y’all, with a wish for peace on Earth and goodwill to all mankind.

Shaun Treat is a former professor at the University of North Texas and founder of the Denton Haunts historical ghost tour. Doc has written about numerous local places and personalities at his Denton Haunts blog, and is forever indebted to the great work of our local keepers of history like Mike Cochran and Laura Douglas at the Emily Fowler Library for their tireless work in helping preserve Denton’s intriguing past. Be sure to check out our local museums curated by the fine folks at the Denton County Office of History & Culture, and follow @Dentonaut on Twitter for local happenings.