College Traditions: Spirit Splash at the University of Central Florida
Spirit Splash is a homecoming tradition at University of Central Florida, and is traditionally the only time during the year that students are allowed into the Reflecting Pond. It has been named the best college tradition in Florida by Florida Leader magazine, and among “The 20 Best College Traditions” by Business Insider.
Spirit Splash occurs the Friday before the Homecoming game, and serves as a pep rally where students descend into the pond to demonstrate school spirit. Spirit Splash began in 1995 when then-Student Body President Miguel Torregrossa was pushed into the Reflecting Pond by one of his cabinet members and fellow students followed suit. Along with the thousands of students who attend, there are members of the community, local dignitaries, alumni, children and even dogs who come to join in on the festivities. Knightro, the Marching Knights, cheerleaders, student athletes, and dancers all participate in the pep rally, usually followed by a concert. Spirit Splash was made possible in part by weight testing performed on the Reflecting Pond in preparation for President Richard Nixon’s visit to the university to speak at its 1973 commencement. It was determined that the best way to protect the president would be to hold commencement in the pond itself, after being drained, so that Secret Service agents could be stationed on the roofs of the adjacent buildings.
One of the newest traditions on the UCF campus pertains to the Pegasus seal in the center of the main floor of the Student Union. From their first day on campus for orientation, new students are told to never walk on the Pegasus. As the tradition is told, those who step on the seal will never graduate from UCF. Usually the seal is roped off with heavy black velvet ropes, but when the ropes are not in place, students can be seen carefully avoiding the seal. In 2005, Florida Leader magazine named this new tradition the best college superstition in Florida.