The University of Georgia has been around for over 200 years, and some of the most beloved traditions have come to exist over these many years. Alumni, students, friends, and family wear their black and red proud and live to pass these traditions down to future dawgs for generations to come.
Here are a few of my favorite traditions that help give this amazing school its character and the Dawg Family their pride.
The 160-year-old iron Arch that separates historic North Campus from Downtown Athens has become one of UGA’s most iconic symbols. Modeled after the state seal of Georgia, The Arch is a symbolic reminder of the tie between the birthplace of higher education in America and UGA’s home state of Georgia. Built on the three pillars of wisdom, justice, and moderation, this iron Arch holds a lot of meaning among students. It is a tried and true belief among students that their first walk under the Arch is at graduation. (Rumor has it, anytime before this will put your dreams for graduation in jeopardy)
Ringing the Bell
Created to signal class changes, the beautiful white bell tower standing tall on North Campus has evolved its tradition over time. When the need for a class change signal was no longer needed, the bell became a celebratory symbol during UGA’s football season. The tradition became that after a victory for our dawgs, students would ring the bell until midnight. Now the bell rings for any victory, whether that be a good grade on a difficult test or graduating from the University.
The Oldest Rivalry in the Deep South
With UGA being the birthplace of higher education, it is no surprise that the Deep South’s oldest rivalry includes our Georgia Bulldogs. The Auburn Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs first met in February of 1892. The annual meeting has continued almost every year since 1892, canceled only for extenuating circumstances such as World Wars. With 124 total meetings, Georgia currently holds the lead with 60 wins over the Tigers.
Between the Hedges
Georgia’s hedges lining the beloved Sanford stadium have been a part of the stadium since 1929. The 5,000 square foot rectangle bounding the field is a symbol of strength and tradition to UGA and its football team. The hedges have only been removed twice in their 91 years of existence. The first was in 1996 when Sanford stadium was reconfigured to be the soccer venue for the ‘96 Olympic Games being hosted in Atlanta. The second was in 2017 when the stadium’s west end zone was renovated to create new locker rooms and assemble the giant scoreboard. Both times the hedges were removed, housed in undisclosed locations, and seamlessly replanted in their respective spots around the field.
Lighting up Sanford
While the fourth quarter tradition is rather new compared to others, the passion behind the twinkling lights is unmatched. The tradition started in 2015 when a dedicated Redcoat Band member was inspired by a post on a social media site. He decided to spread the word, hoping to light up Sanford for the final home game of the season. As the third quarter came to a close and the Redcoats began playing Krypton, the lights came on, and the tradition began. For every night game since, as the quarter winds down, fans began turning on their flashlights, and the stadium lights up. The twinkling lights are enough to give anyone chills and send our football team into the final quarter with a boost of confidence from Dawg Nation.
The Infamous Fireworks
The symbolic meaning of fireworks to UGA students is one of my favorite traditions. It is something that every high school student, hopeful to be a Dawg, dreams about. The fireworks begin when you are accepted to the University of Georgia, one of the best days of any Georgia Bulldogs life. I remember opening my acceptance letter and seeing the red and black fireworks fly across my computer screen. The firework tradition comes full circle senior year at graduation on the field of Sanford stadium. Commencing the ceremony, the same fireworks that welcomed students just four years earlier help send them off.