If you’re wondering how Florida State University became a school marked by well-known and exciting traditions, you’ve come to the right place. Since its inception in 1851, FSU has developed traditions that help make it a destination college campus.
These 10 FSU traditions are vital to the school’s history and livelihood and give Seminoles a sense of pride and belonging.
1. Chopping to the War Chant
The War Chant paired with the Tomahawk Chop makes Florida State recognizable to any opponent at home and away games alike. It’s even recognizable 800 miles away, something Florida State University sophomore Grace Markwell brought to light. When I asked her why she loved the Tomahawk Chop she said, “I love that everyone who knows FSU knows the chop. I’m from central Illinois which is over 800 miles away, but last summer I bonded with a stranger at home because I was wearing an FSU shirt and he started chopping when he walked by. It’s something that brings Seminoles together even when they’re far from Tallahassee.” This encounter really shows how the chop doesn’t just serve to intimidate opponents in sports but unites Seminole fans everywhere. The War Chant also acts as an unofficial anthem in Tallahassee and you can hear it playing anytime, anywhere from night clubs to the grocery store.
2. Chief Osceola and Renegade
To start off every home football game, a student portraying Florida State’s official symbol, Chief Osceola, takes the field while riding on the back of a horse named Renegade. The pair charge down to midfield to plant a flaming spear into the ground, marking the beginning of the game. After taking off in 1978, this ritual habitually remains at the top of the charts for the best college gameday traditions. But is anyone actually surprised? “Osceola and Renegade riding out onto the field every football game is not only an amazing tradition but also helps FSU stay connected to the Seminole Tribe of Florida and their unconquered spirit,” Florida State University sophomore Ellie Lawson said. With the support and approval of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Osceola and Renegade have taken Bobby Bowden field by storm. Try to name a better duo. You can’t.
3. War Stripes
War stripes have become a pivotal part of the experience at any home FSU sporting event. Before games, matches and meets, a group of women called the Lady Spirithunters stand outside each sports stadium and offer to paint war stripes on the faces of Seminole fans and, believe it or not, sometimes fans of opposing teams. “Painting war stripes is such a great way for fans to express their Seminole pride. I love getting to be a part of their gameday experience,” sophomore Lady Spirithunter Lauren Martin said. From this quote and the smiles on fans’ faces, anyone can clearly see that war stripes provide a sense of joy and spirit for anyone who paints them or wears them. And don’t worry, they wash off very easily (I’ve done it a thousand times).
4. Sod Cemetery
The Sod Cemetery began in 1962 before Florida State football became remotely relative in the college football scene. After an unlikely 18-0 away victory against the University of Georgia, the team brought home grass from UGA’s stadium and decided to bury it under a plaque commemorating the score of the game. That game became known as the first ‘sod game’ and from that point on, any time FSU earned an unlikely win on the road, they took sod from those respective stadiums to bury. This ritual still holds up today and I really wonder how the team has gotten away with stealing grass from different fields for over 50 years.
5. Campus Crawl
Campus Crawl is a tradition unique to the world-renowned Florida State Marching Chiefs. On the night before a randomly chosen home football game each season, the band gathers together to play gameday music throughout campus in order to surprise students and pump them up for the game the next day. “One of my favorite Chiefs traditions each season is Campus Crawl. The night before one of our home games each season, we randomly go throughout campus playing the war chant, fight song and pep tunes. It’s just a fun way for us to hype up campus for gameday,” junior Marching Chief member Zach Law said. This experience not only makes students actually excited to wake up for a noon game, but it’s also one of the only redeeming qualities of dorm life. Take it from someone who’s been there.
6. Garnet and Gold Guys
Every year the Baptist Collegiate Ministry selects two men to become the famous Garnet and Gold Guys. FSU fans line up to take pictures with these two guys covered head to toe in garnet and gold glitter paint, a staple of Tallahassee gamedays since 1998. All season long, these two guys stand in the hot Florida sun and take thousands of pictures with fans all in the exact same pose (and I have no idea how they do it). Taking a picture with these guys is a rite of passage, and I’m convinced you can’t be a real fan until you take part.
7. The Flying High Circus
Being one of two colleges in the nation with a circus and the singular college with its own big top makes Florida State University wonderfully unique. Also, one of the coolest parts about the Flying High Circus is that its cast happens to be strictly filled with FSU students. Twice a year, these hard-working performers put on a show filled with various high–quality circus acts good enough to give off major The Greatest Showman vibes. “[The circus] is such a fulfilling organization. It’s so rewarding… seeing the crowd fill up before each show… [and] I’m so thankful to represent such a wonderful organization and watch it grow,” sophomore Nicole Vitiello said. The circus experience at FSU is like no other, and after struggling through the past few football seasons, I can safely say that Florida State is a circus school.
8. President’s Ice Cream Social
Each year in April, the president of FSU hosts an Ice Cream Social on Landis Green, the heart of campus. The school buys hundreds of gallons of ice cream, as well as gourmet popsicles, to hand out to FSU students for a couple of hours. President John Thrasher and his wife Jean can be seen serving ice cream and interacting with students during the entirety of this event, stopping every five seconds to be put on people’s Instagram stories. “The President’s Ice Cream Social is something I look forward to every year. It’s a fun way to bring everyone on campus together,” Florida State University sophomore Shannon Richards said. The event grows larger and larger every year it’s held, and it continues to unite the campus in a positive way. It also happens just in time before spring finals drain all of the life out of everyone involved.
9. Dipping Class Rings into Westcott Fountain
Before each class graduates, seniors gather around Westcott Fountain and dip their class rings into the water at exactly 18:51 p.m., mimicking the foundation year of Florida State. This event occurs after the seniors receive their rings and participate in a ring ceremony in which they recite the Seminole creed. The dipping of class rings sets this tradition apart from other colleges and their class ring ceremonies while helping to justify the $200 or more each student spends on their ring. Plus participants might even end up on President Thrasher’s Twitter, something totally worth enduring a long ring ceremony for.
10. Throwing Students into Westcott Fountain on their 21st Birthday
Another tradition that happens at Westcott Fountain involves tossing Florida State students into the water on the night of their 21st birthday. I know that drunk people throwing each other into a fountain might not sound like the best judgment call, but what’s life without risks? According to Florida State University senior Cassi Flamand, this tradition “[is] unique because Westcott is a staple building on campus… No other university has a tradition like that and I can’t wait to take part in it.” This tradition ties in a milestone in a person’s life with a monumental structure on campus and the fact that it feels so personal for students makes it even more special. And who wouldn’t want to take a dip in a fountain on the night of one their most important birthdays?