“OSU Buckeyeman” superfan Larry Lokai is loaded with Buckeyes and ready for his appearance Tuesday Nov. 12 at the 26th annual Darke County OSU Alumni Club Tailgate Blood Drive at the Greenville Church of the Brethren.
Larry is recognized by college football fans nationwide for his trademark red face paint, wild scarlet-and-gray wig, and massive mane of Buckeye necklaces. The Urbana native is a faithful supporter of the Tailgate Blood Drive and will again be accompanied by “Tress” look-alike Dennis Singleton from Huber Heights.
Larry plans to arrive with 40 hand-made Buckeye necklaces to award as door prizes to donors. He and Tress will be ready to pose for pictures with donors that he will quickly post to his Facebook.
“I did a good job on your necklaces,” said Larry. Fans from across the state help him collect his annual harvest of Buckeyes. This year Larry estimates he will make about 2,000 Buckeye necklaces as gifts for fans. He recently presented necklaces to all OSU cheerleaders and Brutus mascots at a practice at St. John’s Arena.
Another notable presentation was the special Buckeye necklace he made for Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts during a visit to the Governor’s Mansion before the OSU-Nebraska game. The welcome for the Buckeyeman was a tribute to Huskers hospitality and good sportsmanship, considering the lopsided 48-7 win for the Buckeyes.
“The Nebraska game was probably my favorite of the year,” said Larry. “Between the necklace presentation at the Governor’s Mansion and getting to shoot the hot dog machine on the field. It shoots hotdogs 60 to 75 feet!”
Larry puts his Buckeye total at 58,000, and in his busiest year he made 3,333 necklaces. “I pick-up about 25 percent and the rest are given to me,” he said of Buckeye collecting. “This year I got over a third from a lady in Xenia.”
“I was first ever family member to earn an OSU degree and had zero scholarships,” he said of his long allegiance to OSU. The number of Lokai family members to earn OSU degrees is now at 25 with a granddaughter and grandson expected to earn their degrees in December. “These include all my nine siblings, spouses, children and grandchildren,” he said.
Our family has much to be thankful for, especially myself,” he said. “I started ‘Buckeyeman’ in November 1998 and it’s still fun. Now I am in the ‘happiness business.’ When I visit many places, people say what do you do for a living? and I reply, ‘I’m in the happiness business.’ After a few seconds they get the message and life goes on.”