SPRINGVILLE — The devil is making them do it.

Brimstone is flying over this fiery issue: Should the Red Devil remain the mascot of Springville High School?

Nebo School District's Board of Education isn't looking to heavenly inspiration to decide whether a parent-driven proposal to strike down the longtime moniker is a good idea.

They asked the good, God-fearing folks of the city to vote.

And as the polls opened Tuesday, flag bearers on the anti- and pro-devil mascot battlefield accused each other of sinful behavior.

"We feel like the Red Devil is an inappropriate mascot to represent our children and our community," said Mike Baer, part of the100-member Parents for Mascot Review.

The group has led a door-to-door campaign for change, handing out brochures titled "Give the Devil His Due!"

The booklet includes various incarnations of the devilish mascot as well as a "quiz" on the mascot issue.

Baer has found the community divided on the hot topic.

"I couldn't say that we're trying to change people's minds. We've found that people are pretty much set in their beliefs," he said.

"We've wasted a lot of time and energy," said Jodie Allred, who belongs to a group of Springville High School alumni who are fighting to keep their beloved mascot.

Allred said opponents are making too big a deal of this and that parents have taken the issue to a level of absurdity.

"I just think that we do our children a disservice when we send them to high school and teach them to be adults when their own parents can't do that," Allred said.

The alumni group, which hasn't bothered to name itself, says it has gathered over 5,000 signatures in a petition to preserve the current Red Devil mascot.

On the streets of Springville, it appears longtime residents want to see the Mighty Red Devil high school mascot stay, while most newcomers would like it to go.

Proponents say Springville High School's devil mascot doesn't affect the way people behave, yet the issue has divided this Utah County community. The Nebo Board of Education is measuring opinion in today's nonbinding vote and will act on whether to change the mascot at Wednesday's regular board meeting in Spanish Fork. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the district chambers, 350 S. Main St.

According to local lore, the devil mascot came from Red Devil cement used in the foundation of an old high school that has long since been razed. Opponents, however, object to the continuing use of horns, a pointed tail and devil themes at high school events, which they say is satanic.

High school students and faculty are casting their opinions at Springville High. The tally taken at two other locations — the Nebo Learning Center in Springville and Mapleton Elementary School — will be kept separate, officials said.

The board has said it won't necessarily go with the majority, but it wants the feedback before making a final decision.

"I think it's ridiculous," said Morrell Dean, a resident for 45 years. "I can't see the parallel (proponents of change) try to make with Satan." It's the same as trying to equate evil with the Lions Club. "Lions are man-eaters," he said.

"I'd be brokenhearted if they changed it. The minority would be ruling the majority if it comes to pass."

"I think they should leave it," said Frank Roberts, an 18-month resident. "My fiancee — she's a Red Devil."

"I think it's stupid that the minority should be able to choose over the majority," said 82-year resident Jack Childs. But a minority took prayer out of school, he said.

"Does that make it right?" he asked.

"I've treated this as a joke — it comes up every few years," said Child, a member of the Springville High Class of 1940. "It usually peters out, but this time it hasn't petered out. But if it's changed, it won't be a joke anymore. Then I'm going to be mad."

When Louise Thompson was going to Springville High School, "we didn't think anything about it," she said. Thompson graduated in 1936.

"I think it's a shame," she said of the efforts to change it.

"People were more religious 20 years ago (and thought little of it)," said Sharon Ridinger, of the SHS Class of 1960.

"Newcomers are coming in and taking over," said Sharon Bearnson of the SHS Class of 1959. "A lot of them don't even have kids in high school yet."

Red Devil mascot supporters have been passing out fliers in Springville neighborhoods asking for support for the vote. One of those fliers had the opposite effect on Lynita Rogers, a young Springville mother and a three-year resident.

"I favor changing it after receiving the flier," she said. The flier included pictures of the devil mascot, which turned her away from supporting it, she said. Debbie Allen, too, would like to see a new mascot. She has lived in Springville three years.

"It should be changed to represent something my kids can value and emulate," she said, holding a toddler by his hand. "My oldest is 13."

"People are making too big a deal of it," said Linsey Nelson, an admitted Red Devil from the Class of 1999. "It has nothing to do with the way people act."

Springville High students Brooke Wilson and Stephanie Smith favor keeping the mascot.

"I think it's retarded — trying to change it," said Smith. "They should worry about something else."

Five-year resident Jennifer Simmons remains neutral over changing the impish mascot, but not over who should pay if it is changed.

"The people who want to change it should pay the cost if it means that much to them," she said. "I don't want to see taxpayer dollars go into that."


E-MAIL: rodger@desnews.com; gfattah@desnews.com