Los Angeles: Traditions
Some UCLA traditions may be traced to the time
the campus was still located on Vermont Avenue. Later, Founder's
Rock was hauled to the Westwood site, the first song was written,
a mascot chosen, and the first note of the big rivalry was sounded
when students from the University of Southern California burned
a bonfire which had been set for a UCLA rally. Many of these early
traditions prevailed, some in altered form, together with a number
of new ones introduced in the succeeding years.
The original Big C was built in 1939 by students,
and for many years the concrete letter dominated the campus landscape
from the hill later occupied by Sproul Residence Hall. In 1960,
Big C junior, slightly smaller in size than its predecessor, was
built on the bluff below Sproul Hall.
Big Rivalry was the crosstown rivalry between
UCLA and the University of Southern California. The annual football
game between the two schools, first played on September 28, 1929,
was one of the highlights of the season and decided ownership of
the victory bell, and whether or not UCLA students held a victory
rally on the Monday following the game.
Card Stunts were essentially the same as
those performed elsewhere, but "light stunts" became a
trademark of the UCLA rooting section. They were originated in 1935
when the football team played some of its games at night. The rooting
section was wired and each student was given four light bulbs, each
of a different color. The various stunts were performed in the darkened
stadium by students plugging in the required bulb. In 1953, because
the light bulbs and wiring were not only difficult to handle but
expensive as well, the students developed a card similar to the
type used in ordinary card stunts with eight different light filters
placed in a circular pattern; each student was given a flashlight
to shine through the various filters.
Founder's Rock was a 75-ton boulder of solid
granite at the eastern entrance of the campus marking the general
area where Regent Edward A. Dickson stood in 1923 when he resolved
that Westwood would be the site of the new campus of the University.
The boulder was brought to Westwood from Perris Valley, California,
in time for the dedication of the new campus on October 25, 1926.
Homecoming was a tradition that underwent
a few changes since its inception in 1927. In 1933, a parade of
boats, the first of its kind at any university, was held in Westwood
Village in addition to a carnival and bonfire. In 1964, the parade
was temporarily grounded, in that the Boats became stationary and
the bonfire were replaced by an olio show, barbeque and a television
rally with the University of Southern California (large television
screens were set up on the two campuses so that the students on
each could witness both rallies via closed circuit television).
A rally dance was held each year to end the week of festivities
which included a homecoming concert, the Westwood Village street
dance, and the crowning of the Homecoming Queen.
Kelps attended all athletic events and performed
various stunts to cheer on the team. The Noble Order of Kelps was
started in 1947 as a men's spirit organization to foster and stimulate
interest in the school and student activities, and to promote spirit
through individual action and collective participation in the affairs
of the University. Its members were selected on the basis of service
and on their capabilities as "rooter rousers."
Mardi Gras, which was billed as the world's
largest collegiate activity, helped support Uni-Camp, a summer camp
for underprivileged children. It began in 1949 as a bazaar to raise
money for the school's foreign students, but grew to a full-scale
carnival with booths, games, rides, food and concerts. By the mid-1960s,
over 30,000 people annually attended Mardi Gras, and the funds enabled
more than 700 underprivileged children to go to summer camp each
In 1925, the grizzly bear was chosen as the
official mascot for the school. However, when UCLA entered the Pacific
Coast Conference in 1929, the University of Montana (a conference
member) had the same mascot so the bruin was selected to replace
the grizzly. When students used to bring live bears to attend their
games, they gave them a variety of names depending on the sex of
the particular animal; Joe and Josephine Bruin were the names that
endured. Joe Bruin was in attendance at every athletic event, though
the live bears were supplanted by a student dressed in a costume
that is a caricature of the animal.
Originally, Berkeley's "Hail to California"
was also sung at Los Angeles, but in 1925, student Bert Price wrote
the words and music of a song especially for UCLA called, "Hail,
Blue and Gold." in 1960, this was replaced by "Hail to
the Hills of Westwood," with words and music by student Jeane
Emerson, and this remained the alma mater. Other songs connected
with UCLA included "By the Old Pacific, " words and music
by Thomas Victor Beall, and "Team, Hear Our Song," words
by Don Davis, music by Harry Fillmore.
Spring Sing began in 1946 when the Phi Kappa
Psi fraternity's unofficial title of "Champion Serenaders of
Fraternity Rome was challenged. The first formal competition took
place in Royce Hall and was so well attended that the event was
moved to the open air theater the following year. In 1952, when
the Medical Center was built on this site, the Spring Sing was moved
to the Hollywood Bowl. "Sing for a pavilion" was the title
used for the event during the next three years as proceeds went
to help build a new pavilion on campus to replace the old open air
theater. Later proceeds were used for scholarships for foreign students.
Every fall, thousands of students traveled
to the Bay Area for the UCLA-Stanford football game at Palo Alto
or, in alternate years, the UCLA-UC game at Berkeley. Originally
started in 1931, the first trips were made by boat and train. By
the mid-1960s, students traveled by plane and private auto.
Unicamp was a summer camp in the San Bernardino
Mountains for underprivileged, blind and diabetic children of the
Los Angeles area. It was founded in 1935 by 11 UCLA students and
is coordinated by the University Religious Conference in conjunction
with local elementary and junior high schools, church affiliated
organizations and community centers. The camp was divided into two-week
sessions and was operated by UCLA students who acted as counselors
and who received only their room and board during their stay. The
camp was supported mainly through the contributions of students
and proceeds from special events such as Mardi Gras.
Victory Bell was given to the student body
by the UCLA Alumni Association in 1939, and was originally the school's
own symbol of victory until it was taken by students from the University
of Southern California in 1941. When it was surrendered in 1942,
the student body presidents of the two schools agreed that the bell
should be a permanent trophy awarded the winner of the annual UCLA-USC
Victory Rally, originated in 1946, took place
on the Monday following the UCLA-USC football game, should UCLA
be the winner. Students joined in a march to the intersection of
Wilshire and Westwood Boulevards to sing and cheer.