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Burn baby burn: annual Cocky’s Funeral tradition continues before Tigers’ baseball game

Summer Robinson, Senior News Reporter

The socially distanced crowd at this year’s funeral.

The infamous Cocky was burned at the stake Thursday evening at the Student Alumni Council’s annual tradition: Cocky’s Funeral. The event is typically held before the Palmetto Bowl, but due to the COVID-19 complications, Cocky met his maker two nights before the rival baseball game.

The event began with Colonel Sandy Edge, a senior lecturer and the director of advising in the College of Business, and members of the Clemson ROTC carrying Cocky’s casket in a procession in front of the crowd. After representatives from the Student Alumni Council spoke before the audience, Edge stepped up to the podium to deliver the official eulogy. 

Colonel Sandy Edge has been eulogizing at Cocky’s Funeral for many years with the aim of continuing a healthy rivalry between Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.

The very first Cocky’s Funeral was held in 1940 in response to the Tiger Burn event held at the University of South Carolina, and the tradition has continued every year since then.

During his speech, Edge mentioned that Cocky’s Funeral is normally held during the fall semester. “You students were robbed of that and so much more in 2020,” he said. “Let’s hope we can return to some sense of normalcy and that is playing the chickens and kicking their behinds.” The crowd of students erupted with cheering and applause. 

After the eulogy, Cocky was lit aflame. Loud music began to play and everyone cheered. As students left the event, they were given a free Chick-fil-A sandwich.

The Student Alumni Council modified Cocky’s Funeral in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines, spacing all the chairs six feet apart. The event was a huge success, with hundreds of students gathering in the C-2 parking lot across from the baseball stadium for the attraction.

“Ever since the coronavirus hit, we’ve been trying to find ways to get students together in a safe, socially distanced manner,” said Lindsey Kirtley, a sophomore industrial engineering major and director of PR for the Student Alumni Council. 

Andrew Kwasny, a senior industrial engineering major and the director of Cocky’s Funeral, said the planning process for the event was rushed because the baseball schedule was released last minute. However, he and his team were able to pull it off successfully.

Kwasny said it is important to keep traditions like Cocky’s Funeral alive because of its connection to the Clemson family. “It’s not too often everyone gets to get behind one common thing and cheer for something,” explained Kwasny.

Students were no doubt happy to engage in the time-honored Clemson tradition, especially given all the changes to the student experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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