USC mascot gallops into town

University of Southern California mascot Tommy Trojan and his trusty steed Traveler enjoyed sunny weather Wednesday at Descanso Gardens for a visit with the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada Flintridge.

Traveler's owner and trainer, Joanne Asman, was the guest of honor at the weekly luncheon, where she entertained members with stories of the 19-year-old Andalusian gelding's training and performances.

Tales included how Asman, a Burbank resident, trained the horse not to be startled by Stanford's tree mascot by exposing him to a moving replica tree.

Traveler is the seventh horse to embody the Spirit of Troy, a tradition that stretches back 49 years. In recent years Traveler has appeared at the Orange Bowl in Florida, a Ritz-Carlton ballroom and the American at Brand in Glendale.

"It's always wonderful to welcome Traveler to La Cañada Flintridge, said club member and City Manager Mike Alexander, a 1990 graduate of USC's Masters of Public Administration program and well-known Trojan supporter.

"We plan a new, interesting and exciting program each week, and this definitely fills the bill," said Nick Berkuta, a past president of the club.

Joe Piasecki

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