Campus leaders discuss UCF traditions
Homecoming theme revealed, 'Our Days as Knights'
Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 16:08
Homecoming week, a highly anticipated tradition at UCF, has been bringing feelings of excitement and pride to university students for more than a decade. The theme reveal has become the talk of the campus as the Homecoming website counted down the days, hours and minutes until the theme was revealed at noon on Tuesday in the Student Union.
In the past, Homecoming Week activities have included a parade, Spirit Splash, a concert and of course a football game.
On the Friday before this year’s Homecoming Game against SMU, which is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 3, students will gather around the Reflecting Pond to participate in Spirit Splash – the one day a year that UCF students are allowed to swim and play in the campus fountain
Spirit Splash, which was voted best university tradition in the state by Florida Leader magazine last year, is a fun afternoon for students to prepare for the upcoming tailgating events and football game.
The tradition began 17 years ago when then-Student Government Association president, Miguel Torregrossa, was pushed into the fountain by one of his cabinet members, said Jason Avola, a health sciences major.
Every year since then, students play in the gigantic water fountain in the name of tradition while hurdling over each other to collect rubber ducks which are “dressed” to match each year’s theme.
“This year’s theme is ‘Our Days as Knights,’ which is kind of a calling back of former Knights and new Knights to come together and say what it means to be a Knight,” said Sam Whitman, special events coordinator of Homecoming.
Although Homecoming is one of the most memorable traditions at UCF, there are plenty of other annual events that students look forward to being involved with.
Aryn Gallaher, student director of Homecoming, said her favorite school custom is indeed Homecoming, but she also likes an event called Knight-Thon.
Knight-Thon is an event that takes a philanthropic approach to community involvement. Every spring semester students gather in The Venue to “stand for children who can’t.”
The event takes a literal outlook of its mission by enlisting students to stand for 16 hours. Last year, Knight-Thon had 450 participants and was able to raise more than $118,000.
“It’s really cool to see all the passion they put into it and to see their hard work pay off,” Gallaher said.
Another campus tradition, Pegasus Palooza, celebrates the beginning of each fall semester by hosting a number of educational workshops and fun activities during the first week of classes. Also known as UCF’s official welcome week, Pegasus Palooza has become synonymous with the annual CAB Concert and Comedy Knight and gives students a chance to meet new people and find ways to get involved in their university beyond just showing up for class.
“It’s [Pegasus Palooza] a great week for our students to get together and have fun … definitely one of my favorites,” Whitman said.
During this year’s Pegasus Palooza, comedians Nick Vatterott, T.J. Miller and Reggie Watts entertained students. A VIP Pool Party held later the same week kept the night alive with free food, music performed by local DJs and the opportunity to meet Orlando Magic dancers.
“Although it [Pegasus Palooza] is a great time, Homecoming is really still my favorite,” Whitman said. “When you see families and kids wearing Knights shirts that their parents bought it brings it all together. Everyone gets involved to bring future Knights or remember being a Knight.”
One Homecoming event that will live on only in the memories of those who were involved during past years is the annual Homecoming Parade.
“One big change is that we won’t be having the Homecoming Parade this year,” Gallaher said. “There will be another event in its place.”
Whitman, a junior hospitality and event management major, believes this change is probably for the best.
“I’ve been in the parade twice myself and I liked it, but it’s not the most popular,” Whitman said.
Campus traditions live on in the minds of students long after they graduate and play a role in the college experience. Whether they began as a prank or as a way to take pride in the black and gold, UCF traditions will continue to get students involved and interested in their university as not only a place where classes are held, but as a place where memories are created.
Whitman wants students to take this year’s Homecoming theme to heart and keep that pride with them throughout their time on campus and afterward.
With this year’s theme, Homecoming directors are challenging students to consider this: “What are you going to be known for? What will you remember from being a Knight?”