Doing his part: Moses leads new Texan tradition

Published Wednesday, October 3, 2018
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Crowd Pleaser

CROWD PLEASER – Jonathon Hester, known as Moses, gets ready to lead the crowd in cheers at the Northwest Texans’ football game. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

Standing at the front of the stands before a sea of cheering, red-clad Northwest High School students waving back and forth, Jonathon Hester raises his staff high in the air before lowering it, the crowd collapsing. Dressed in his white wig and robe after parting the red sea of students, Hester, better known as “Moses”, journeys between fans making his way to the top of the stands to roars.

To Hester, all it takes to harness the awesome power of Moses is the ability to laugh at yourself.

“You just have to be willing to do anything and embarrass yourself for a good 30 seconds,” Hester said.

For the past three years, the parting of the Red Sea, based on the story of Moses leading the Israelites’ exodus out of Egypt, has been a staple at Northwest home football games. The popularity of the bit has hit new levels this season with Hester and fans adding more theatrics.

“This year is a lot better,” Hester said. “We do the swag surf to make it look like the Red Sea.”

Hester inherited the role of Moses from Dillon Duble, who first took on the persona for a “red out game” in 2017.

“He was a senior three years ago and started Moses, and it just gets passed down,” said Northwest cheer coach Bre Wardlow. “Jonathon will pass it down to a senior in Stampede next year.

“He started it because we were having a red out game. Everyone in the student section was wearing red. He was like ‘Moses parts the Red Sea.’ He started it without the Moses costume. It caught on, and we do it every game now at the end of halftime.”

Junior Ethan Montandon, who is one of the Stampede members, admits it started as a joke but quickly caught on as a tradition. The tradition went viral earlier this year, being shared on social media around the region.

“It’s pretty cool. We didn’t really expect it,” Hester said. “[Principal] Mrs. [Carrie] Jackson tweeted it, and it just blew up one night. I didn’t know it happened until someone texted me the next day.”

Hester, who is in his second year in the role, didn’t completely volunteer for it.

“I’d kind of fell asleep in a meeting. It kind of got forced on me,” Hester recalled. “It was like that episode of ‘Friends’ where Chandler falls asleep in a meeting and ends up having to move to Oklahoma. That’s basically what happened and now I’m Moses.”

At three more home games, including Friday’s homecoming tilt with Eastern Hills, Hester will again use his staff to part the sea of fans before handing off the new tradition.

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