They started appearing in the stands at UNLV basketball games last season: Wayne Newton, Holly Madison, Jimmy Kimmel, Elvis Presley. These larger-than-life cutouts of Las Vegas icons are the work of the Rebellion, which has brought spirited coordination to the UNLV student section at the Thomas & Mack Center since forming last season. At the Rebels’ season opener Nov. 12, the Rebellion debuted cutouts of Prince Harry, Celine Dion and Bryce Harper, along with its own theme song. We spoke with UNLV student Ben Leavitt, one of the group’s founders, about its plans for this season.
How much preparation went into this season?
We’ve been preparing since the offseason started. We have a new song, “The Battle Hymn of the Rebellion,” which we’re doing with the band. It stems from a soccer chant, and we’re hoping it’s going to become really big. We brought back all the fatheads [the character cutouts] from last year, and we’ve got five new ones, as well as some 3-D ones. It takes about 50 to 60 hours of manpower to put those together. They’re going to be a big deal—bigger than Mozilla [the giant Mike Moser cutout with moving arms]. We’ve already seen people copying our Mozilla, but we’ve already moved on to bigger and better things.
Have you had help from the community?
Definitely. A lot of alumni wanted to see something grow, and they started giving us money and guiding us—that’s what really sparked it and helped it get to where it is now.
Are you surprised at how the Rebellion has grown?
It really took off right away. We had 1,000 Twitter followers in about a week. It’s crazy how everyone has rallied around it, and how it has unified everyone. We have 2,600 members now. Everyone is a part of the Rebellion. That’s the thing that we really stress: It’s of, by and for the students.