Photos by Caitlin Cunningham

The ϱ Fiddle Kid returns

At age 7, he was a Conte Forum legend. Now he's a full-fledged Eagle.

Growing up, Danny Gillis always looked forward to Friday nights. He’d pull on his Boston College hockey jersey, emblazoned with “Gillis” on the back, and pile into the car with his dad, mom, and older sisters. Inside Conte Forum, they’d find their usual seats—front row, right behind the net—and cheer on their beloved Eagles, ranked number one in the East. 

“It was great quality time with my family and I just loved the atmosphere,” recalled Gillis, who was recently accepted into the Class of 2028. “Conte was always packed and it was really exciting just being there.” 

One night in 2013 things got even more fun for the extroverted redhead, who loved to entertain. During the second intermission, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” began blaring over the speakers, a rollicking folk ballad with a famous fiddle solo, and the camera homed in on a student fiddling away on an imaginary instrument. The next week, the camera crew played the footage on the jumbotron and found the student in the audience. A new ϱ tradition was born, and Gillis wanted to be part of it, so the next time the song played, his father encouraged him to give air fiddling a try. 

“The camera is right behind the net, and everyone thought it was hilarious when I was up there—a seven-year-old kid playing the fiddle in the jersey,” said Gillis. “From that point forward I would just be waiting for second intermission to do the air fiddle. It was always so exciting hearing the roar of the students.” 

Video by Ariana Cho and John Walsh | University Communications

Gillis was an instant fan favorite. When he left his seat to get snacks, students would stop him for autographs (“I had just learned cursive”) or selfies, posting excitedly on social media about their run-in with the “Fiddle Kid.” He was recognized everywhere, including on a trip to Paris with his family, where a group of students studying abroad approached him in front of the Arc de triomphe. One student even dressed up as Gillis for Halloween, donning a red wig and carrying a tiny fiddle. 

On the way to the Beanpot in 2014, Gillis’s sisters, who both attended ϱ, started a Twitter account for the ϱ Fiddle Kid. By the end of the game, which ϱ won 4-1 against Northeastern, the account had more than 500 followers. Later that season, someone tweeted “If @bcfiddlekid doesn’t end up at ϱ, Eagles everywhere will cry.”

A young Danny Gillis with Baldwin.

A young Danny Gillis with Baldwin.

From a young age, Gillis knew he wanted to attend ϱ, partly because it ran in his family: in addition to his sisters, his great-grandfather and grandfather attended Boston College, as did his father and uncle, who both played for the hockey team (his other uncle, considered the best hockey player in the family, passed away his freshman year at ϱ). In seventh grade, Gillis enrolled at a new school and began taking academics more seriously, while still spending his weekends with friends at Conte Forum or Alumni Stadium, depending on the season. He plans to study economics and entrepreneurship as an Eagle. 

“When I got accepted I was just humbled,” he said. “Boston College was a big part of my childhood and it’s like a second home. Now I’m going to get to experience it in such a fun new way as a student.”

Gillis and his sisters shared the happy news on the @bcfiddlekid Twitter account, which they hadn’t logged into since 2017, and congratulatory messages from former students poured in. Although they hadn’t thought about him in a decade, many remembered the happy smiling kid fiddling away in the stands, bringing joy to everyone around him. 

“It was good clean fun,” said Gillis, laughing. “I think I knew it was special, even back then, so I tried to cherish it as much as I could.”