Some employees of the State College Borough have been through a hairy experience over the past month -- but they're not complaining.
More than 20 workers representing several departments in the borough have been competing in a mustache growing contest. Those shaggy upper lips have been sprouting since the beginning of October as part of a fundraiser for the Centre County United Way.
The idea for a facial hair competition arose when a number of borough employees who are involved with United Way decided to try something new to raise money.
“We were looking for a way to raise awareness because in the past we’ve done chili cook-offs and stuff like that,” says State College Police Detective John Aston. “We wanted to get creative with it and have something the entire borough could participate in so we decided to see who could grow the best mustache."
Participants were required to pay a $10 fee to be a part of the competition. The contest runs until Nov. 12. The person who's voted the winner gets a day off from work.
In order to raise even more money and get the women involved, the voting will be open to all borough workers. Anyone who casts a ballot will pay $5. Every voter will have his or her name placed in a hat. The person whose name is pulled out of the hat will also get a day off.
Since all competitors were required to shave before the start of the contest, participation was slightly hindered because some men didn't want to part with their already grown whiskers.
“The problem was people were already growing them because of winter and hunting season and they didn’t want to shave it off,” Aston says. “They’d say, ‘do you know how long it took me to grow this?’”
Participants include borough manager Tom Fountaine, who shaved his mustache in order to participate, and chief of police Thomas King.
Aston, who has been growing out his own facial hair, says it's too early to tell which contestants are potential winners.
“I could be biased,” Aston says with a laugh. “It’s tough because some people like the chief (King) have to keep it trimmed and neat in order to stay with department rules and others are letting it grow wild. Then you’ve got the manager (Fountaine) who I had never seen with out a mustache before this thing started.”
While organizers will wait and see how many people participate before deciding whether facial hair contests will be held in the future, Aston feels the fundraiser has staying power.
With two weeks left until the voting process begins, many of those who were unwilling to trim their already grown mustaches are regretting the decision.
“After we started, the involvement and awareness got so amplified with all of the laughter and the teasing, that I think a lot of people regretted not signing up,” Aston says.