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The Tiger

Clemson traditions to know before heading to Tigertown

Mercedes Dubberly
The Tiger and the Tiger Cub ride along for the Annual First Friday Parade—a Clemson tradition dating back to 1974.

Clemson is not only a university rich in history and success but is also home to more than a few traditions. These traditions help to make Clemson the special college town and community that it is, so let’s get up to speed and in the spirit by reviewing some of the most iconic.

Solid Orange Friday

What’s better than a Friday in Clemson? A “Solid Orange Friday”! Students, staff and alumni from all over can be found repping orange on Fridays to showcase our unity, pride and love for the Clemson family. So throw on that orange T-shirt and wear it proudly!

$2 Bills
Just when you thought a $2 bill couldn’t get any cooler, Clemson fans decided to up the rarity and put a Clemson paw on it. This tradition dates all the way back to the 1970s when the Tigers would travel to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech in football. When the Yellowjackets refused to play Clemson in 1977, Clemson students and alumni began stamping $2 bills with the Tiger paw and spent them in Atlanta to show Clemson’s continual presence in the city.

If you’re planning to travel to an away game this season, make sure to pack those stamped $2 bills to leave Clemson’s mark nationwide.

The Clemson Ring
Dating back to 1896, the Clemson ring has been worn with pride by seniors, graduates and alumni. The ring was designed to honor military heritage, and also serves as a physical reminder of the bond that all Clemson alumni share.

After you have worked hard for 90 credit hours (and made sure to have fun along the way), that ring is yours — wear it with the date facing you. When graduation day comes, have someone special in your life flip your ring so it faces the rest of the world ahead, just like you now do!

Homecoming Week
Homecoming week has been one of the most exciting weeks of the year at Clemson since 1914. Different groups build elaborate parade floats, students attend the annual Tigerama, and the week culminates with the Homecoming football game. You won’t have to look too hard for the float building — student organizations build their huge, colorful displays on Bowman Field.

On Friday night, Clemson students host one of the nation’s largest pep rallies, Tigerama. Tigerama dates back to 1957 and includes skits, fireworks, music and the crowning of Miss Homecoming. This year’s Homecoming week starts on Sept. 23 and concludes with the big game against Stanford on Sept. 28. Bring your Clemson spirit and see you there!

First Friday Parade
The First Friday Parade, which marks the start of the football season, has drawn quite the crowd to the streets of Clemson since 1974. Clemson residents, students and supporters flood downtown to take part in this celebratory tradition. The parade features University President Jim Clements, Miss Clemson, Miss First Friday, student organizations, spirit squads and the famous Tiger Band!

Starting at Douthit Hills, the parade passes President’s Park, historic Tillman Hall and Bowman Field, then makes its final hurrah near Fike Recreation Center. Tell work or your professors that you are booked Friday afternoon of Sept. 6, and bring your friends out to enjoy this year’s parade.

Senior Sidewalks
When you’re taking a walk through campus, keep an eye out for any brick sidewalks underfoot. Engraved in these are the names of Clemson alumni, with some dating back nearly 75 years! Graduating seniors in the 1950s started raising money to build sidewalks around campus and left a special touch of their legacy by imprinting their names. Today, more than 53,000 alumni names can be found around campus.

‘55 Exchange Ice Cream
Craving a sweet treat? Look no further than Clemson’s own student-run ice cream shop! The ‘55 Exchange is not just any old dessert stop — its ice cream is made entirely in the heart of Clemson by our dairy science students.

This delicious ice cream was first produced in the 1920s and was established as a business in 1955 as a gift from the graduating class. The shop’s ice cream was ranked the No. 1 University Ice Cream in the country by College Magazine, so make sure to grab a scoop or two this year!

Running Down The Hill
A game day in Death Valley is not complete without witnessing “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.” Before every home game, students rush to gain a spot on The Hill to cheer on the beloved Tigers as they make their way into Memorial Stadium. Led by no one other than head coach Dabo Swinney, the team enters Death Valley through the east gate, taking off down the Hill and onto the playing field.

Interestingly enough, this electric entrance was originally performed solely for convenience since the team used to dress out for games in Fike Field. However, it has become a beloved tradition that sparks excitement in every Clemson fan—a feeling you can only truly experience within the walls of Memorial Stadium itself.

Howard’s Rock
Originally from Death Valley, California, Howard’s Rock was a gift to coach Frank Howard given in 1966. On Sept. 24 of that year, Howard decided to place the rock atop the Hill before the Tigers’ game against Virginia. He told his players that if they gave 110%, they could receive the privilege of rubbing the rock.

The Tigers went on to beat the Cavaliers, which marked the beginning of the pre-game tradition. The Tigers have continued to barrel into Memorial Stadium and down The Hill ever since, but not before taking a second at its pedestal to rub the rock for good luck.

Alma Mater Salute
First-year Clemson students wore rat caps during the University’s time as a military school, and would wave them in the air during every football game. While we no longer sport these caps, students and alumni keep the tradition going by waving their hands in the air at the conclusion of the alma mater song, with their thumb folded underneath their palms as if they are holding the cap.

Tiger Rag
If you ever find yourself asking what that great music you hear emanating from Death Valley is, you’re most likely hearing our prized Tiger Band playing the iconic “Tiger Rag.” The tune has been played and loved since 1942 when student band director Dean Ross brought it to Tiger territory. It was declared the school’s fight song soon after, and lives on to this day.

The electrifying piece is consistently accompanied by thousands of fans chanting along, spelling “C-L-E-M-S-O…N” proudly. Their infamous song never fails to shake the Southland or, at the very least, Clemson, South Carolina.

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Mercedes Dubberly
Mercedes Dubberly, Associate Editor
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