Thanksgiving at FSCW

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Schedule of events during Thanksgiving week (1941)

FSU’s campus during Thanksgiving is usually pretty quiet – students and staff are visiting their families over the break, or maybe traveling for the annual FSU vs. UF game, or others might be holed up in their dorm room and getting an early start on studying for finals. However, at FSCW, Thanksgiving week was bustling with events, which included presentations, band drills, a dance, and culminated with Florida State’s original rivalry – the annual Odd-Even basketball game. Festivities surrounding Thanksgiving became so enormously popular that college officials designated the entire week as Homecoming in 1926.

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Programs from Even Demonstrations
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Programs from Odd Demonstrations

The first event, a tradition that started in 1913, was the Color Rush. At the beginning of the week, selected students would race around the school and “capture” buildings by affixing ribbons in their class colors to the highest point (and later on, the front doors, due to safety concerns). Odd class colors were red, white, and purple, and the Even classes adopted green and gold.

The fountain at Westcott was designated “Forever Odd,” because it was gift from the 1915 and 1917 classes. Similarly, the entrance arch was declared “Forever Even,” and was gifted by the classes of 1916 and 1918. The Color Rush began at the morning bell, and traditionally Dr. Ralph Bellamy would start the race not with a whistle, but his shotgun – ready, set, BOOM!

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Three Women in Baby Costumes (Even Demonstrations) (Betty and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1932)
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Odd Demonstration (Heritage Protocol General Photograph Collection, circa 1926-1927)

Many of the events revolved around the intense rivalry between the Odds and Evens, the groupings of the odd and even graduating classes. Each side developed their own songs, cheers, and even had their own honorary societies – Spirogira (Odd) and Esteren (Even). Elaborate student productions, called demonstrations, were held by each group, complete with costumes, musical numbers, and dancing.

Odd-Even Game (Thanksgiving) (Elizabeth and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1930)
Odd-Even Game (Thanksgiving) (Elizabeth and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1930)

Nothing was more popular than the Odds vs. Evens basketball game. This event, one of the few times that women at the school could participate in athletic competition (as FSCW officials did not think competitive sports were ladylike), became so popular that in 1924 Katherine Montgomery added a volleyball game to the day’s activities. Thanksgiving activities culminated with a dinner on Thursday night. Admission to the dinner cost about $1 for students, and was an elaborate feast that was enjoyed by all.

Various Thanksgiving Week programs
Various Thanksgiving Week programs (circa 1930-1941)

To see more photographs, ephemera, and artifacts related to the history of Florida State, check out the FSU Heritage Protocol Digital Collections or like the Heritage Protocol Facebook page.

We here at FSU Special Collections & Archives wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. We will be closed Thursday, November 27 and Friday, November 28. We resume our normal operating hours on December 1.

About Hannah Wiatt Davis

Hannah Wiatt Davis is the Archives Assistant for the FSU Heritage Protocol & University Archives. She received her MLIS from FSU in August, 2014.

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