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One school many mascots

This year will see Knightro turn 10

Published: Monday, January 19, 2004

Updated: Sunday, February 15, 2009 18:02

Compared to other universities, UCF's 40-year history is relatively short. The school's founding president, Charles Millican, still remains an active member of the UCF community.

Yet despite its short life, UCF has had quite a few mascots.

A display documenting those many mascots, on view through Jan. 31 on the second floor of the UCF Library, tells the story of the predecessors to Knightro, who is marking his 10th birthday this year.

When the student handbook was being developed for the first semester of classes, UCF - then called Florida Technological University, or FTU - had no mascot. To compensate, Norman Van Meter, one of the designers of the university's official seal, created the Citronaut, an orange with the head of an astronaut, as a possible mascot for FTU, and it was put on the cover of the handbook.

For a year, the Citronaut remained the school's unofficial mascot. Students, eager for a "real" mascot, petitioned for the Student Government Association to form a committee to create one.

Yet by November of 1969, nothing had been done to appease the student body's request. On Nov. 3, 1969, the Future published a list of attributes that its staff members believed the mascot should have. Because of the FTU creed, "Reach for the Stars," the mascot should be an animal that flies toward the sky, the article said. Also, like the school, it should be virtuous. It should have the colors of the university, black and gold, on its body. Finally, it should be unique, because FTU stressed the importance of individuality.

The night nurse at the Health Center, Judy Hines, proposed a mascot with these criteria, along with a graphic representation drawn by her husband Gene, to SGA.

Vincent the Vulture was born.

Those in SGA laughed, students snickered, yet in the end, Vincent remained the FTU mascot for a year.

The student body was divided over the issue. Some hated the idea. On Nov. 7, 1969, the Future quoted SGA sources as saying, "What's wrong with the Citronaut?" and "The vulture is the filthiest bird aloft." Others, however, were in love with the idea that their university might actually be getting a mascot. Vincent the Vulture fan clubs popped up around campus, and "Vulture Mania" spread. Quotes, stories and poems about the bird circulated among the students, such as the rumor that a vulture nested atop the library building. In the end, however, most students agreed that a vulture might not be the greatest idea for a university mascot.

Proposals for a new mascot were invited, and when voting day rolled around, FTU students rallied in front of the library to encourage students to pick one. The choices included the Tourists, the Mouse Rockets, the Scorpions, the Golden Paladins and the Golden Knights. With 24 percent of the students weighing in, Golden Knights captured the most votes, followed by the Golden Paladins.

Two days after the university received accreditation, it also received its official mascot. On Dec. 4, 1970, the Knight of Pegasus was introduced at a basketball game against Patrick Air Force Base at the Oviedo High School gym.

Until 1994, the Knights were represented by a jouster from the Medieval Times dinner show. That year, Knightro was introduced at Spirit Splash. For two years, Knightro went stag to Homecoming and football games. Two years later, Knightro got a girlfriend,

Glycerin, to accompany him.

Today, Knightro, and on some occasions, Glycerin, entertains the student body at games and pep rallies. He is known to drive around in a sports car and shoot prizes, including a spongy replica of himself, from his prize-gun.

A life-like representation of a turkey vulture, inspired by Vincent, is currently on display in the Special Collections Room, on the fifth floor of the Library. The school is building a glass case to display the statue. Also in the Special Collections Room is a copy of the first student handbook, with the image of the Citronaut.

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