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5 Fun Texas College Traditions You Might Not Know About

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Thousands of parents across the Texas Hill Country are packing up kids and sending them off to college. School traditions play a big part in the college experience and contribute to the feelings of loyalty we have long after we leave the halls of higher learning. Let’s take a look at a few school traditions at some local Texas colleges.

 Baylor University Slime Cap

5 Fun Texas College Traditions You Might Not Know About

Photo: Flickr/Alan Levine

Upperclassmen can never resist giving the new incoming students a hard time. It’s a right of passage that freshmen everywhere have endured for generations. During the 1940s, older Baylor students jokingly called the newbie freshmen “slime.” The name kind of stuck.

Early in the fall, freshmen are encouraged to attend Slime Night. Think of it as a kind of orientation. Freshmen receive green and gold baseball caps dubbed “slime caps.” During the 1950s, the university had the names and hometowns of incoming freshmen embroidered on the underside of the bill of each cap. Freshmen had to wear them every day with the bill flipped up to denote their status until homecoming. Freshmen are no longer required to wear them today, but they still make a fun memento from a student’s first year of college.

Texas State University Soap Box Derby

5 Fun Texas College Traditions You Might Not Know About

Photo: Flickr/Walter

For the students of Texas State University, the annual Soap Box Derby rolls through campus every year during homecoming week. The tradition started in 1967 and brought more students together than any other event on campus.

Today, the event invites all registered student organizations to build a car and then race it against other student competitors. Car and driver launch from a hilltop ramp hoping to easily cruise to first place.

3. Texas A&M Century Tree

5 Fun Texas College Traditions You Might Not Know About

Photo: Flickr/Cody Green

San Saba has the Wedding Oak from which Wedding Oak Winery takes its name and Texas A&M University has its Century Tree. The Century Tree at A&M is literally just that. Landscapers planted the live oak more than 100 years ago and as the campus has grown, so too has the tree.

The majestic tree with branches that reach ground in some places provides the perfect canopy for young love. Marriage proposals, weddings, and other celebrations take place under its leafy boughs. Rumor has it that if you walk underneath the tree with your true love, then you are sure to marry the one your with.

4. University of Texas Big Bertha

5 Fun Texas College Traditions You Might Not Know About

Photo: Flickr/Aaron Vazquez

If you’ve ever been to a Texas Longhorn game or watched them on television, then you’ve definitely heard Big Bertha, but who is she? No, she’s not the loudest or most obnoxious Longhorn fan, but she is the largest drum in the world.

Eight feet in diameter, forty-one inches wide, and more than ten feet high when perched on her carrier, Big Bertha actually started her career at the University of Chicago in 1922. When the university shuttered its football program in 1939, Bertha was placed in storage until Morton Crockett, a former Longhorn band director, bought her for $1 in 1954 and brought her to Texas where she was completely refurbished.

Now more than 90 years old young, Big Bertha still struts her stuff and honors the Longhorns at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium during UT football games.

5. Texas Tech’s Will Rogers and Soapsuds

5 Fun Texas College Traditions You Might Not Know About

Photo: Flickr/Alison Matherly

Should you putter around the campus of Texas Tech in Lubbock, you’re likely to come upon a statue of Will Rogers and his horse, Soapsuds. Amon G. Carter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram founder and long-time friend of Will Rogers, gave the statue to the university in 1950.

An inscription at the base of the statue reads, “Lovable Old Will Rogers on his favorite horse, ‘Soapsuds,’ riding into the Western sunset,” and university officials thought to position the statue such that Will and Soapsuds were indeed riding west into the sunset. However, someone noted that if the statue were permanently placed in that direction, the rear of Rogers’s mighty steed would be pointed straight at downtown.

To alleviate this problem, workers shifted the statue 23 degrees so that it still faced mostly west, but the horse’s behind now pointed in the direction of arch rival Texas A&M University.

On game days the Saddle Tramps, a Texas Tech athletic support group, wrap Will and his buddy, Soapsuds in Raider red crepe paper in a show of spirit toward their team.