(La Porte, IN) - In Monday’s La Porte 4th of July parade, the Boilermaker Special was one of the most popular and least popular entries—depending on which side of the IU/Purdue rivalry you’re on.
The 27-foot long truck disguised as a locomotive is actually Purdue University’s official mascot. This is the seventh version of the vehicle, in operation since 2011.
Ellen Stuckwisch, who is a senior at Purdue, was driving the Boilermaker Special in Monday’s parade. She said special training is required to get behind the wheel. “You actually have to go through a training process,” she said. "It’s a minimum of 40 hours, and then you get tested. It’s kind of like your driver’s test. You do parallel parking and everything like that.” She did not elaborate on where exactly one parallel parks a 27-foot locomotive.
Stuckwisch, who hails from Seymour, Indiana, said there are ten drivers currently certified and many more trying to make the cut. They travel around the state all summer and attend all Purdue football games, home and away.
The shiny black and brass locomotive is built on a Navistar International truck chassis. Believe it or not, the Boilermaker Special can do 75 mph.