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Pitt Homecoming Traditions of the Past


An amazing discovery happened at Pitt this past weekend. While cleaning the beer cans and pizza crusts out of his backyard, one of our writers stumbled upon what we believe to be a time capsule from the Pitt Class of 1915. In it was a document outlining Pitt Homecoming traditions and it appears that they were vastly different from anything we do nowadays. With that in mind, The Black Sheep would like to take you back to simpler times, when knickers were still a hot style and before Cathy even existed. (GASP!)


Annual Running of the Panther

While it’s pretty common knowledge that things were a little less safe back in the day, we never knew it was this bad. The Running of the Panther was a huge deal back in the day. Students would dress in blue and gold (colors that piss the average panther off) and line the streets of Oakland. Then just as the sun rose over the horizon hundreds of panthers would be set loose on campus. While panthers are less likely to stampede than bulls, plenty of students were still killed. Today we commemorate their lives by throwing up in the very streets they died in.


Football Fourth Quarter

While in 2015 Pitt students don’t stay at football games after Sweet Caroline, back in 1915 the tradition was to actually do the opposite and only show up for the fourth quarter. The legendary Pop Warner, who was the coach at the time, tried starting a trend called “Please Show Up for the Beginning of the Game,” but it didn’t really catch on, probably do to a lack of Twitter followers or something. Pitt did win a national championship that year though, so maybe we need to bring this tradition back.


Homecoming King and Queen

Gender roles were a lot different back in 1915 and so was the process for finding the Homecoming King and Queen. While in the 21st Century the positions are elected, back then prospective kings would actually do battle for control of the title. Much like Game of Thrones, backstabbing and sex had a major role in the process, sometimes they were done simultaneously. Whichever lord had the most land in Oakland was deemed Homecoming King. He got to choose a fair maiden as his queen and he was allowed to behead all those who opposed his rule.


Victory Lights

As we mentioned earlier, the Cathedral of Learning hadn’t been constructed in 1915. Despite this, the Victory Lights were still a tradition. This was made possible by an odd coincidence. Believe it or not, Oakland is a name derived from an old Iroquois word meaning “wow there are a lot of trees here.” At that time in Pitt’s history, there still were a lot of trees in the area, so after a big football win students would just set fire to the nearest tree. Thousands of dollars of property damage occurred every week, but hey we won, man.


It goes without saying that things used to be a lot different and far more dangerous 100 years ago. As Pitt evolved, so did its traditions. While some of the old ones seemed like a lot of fun (fire = awesome) the death toll on campus was most likely detrimental to the university’s reputation. Although every time we hear a freshman ask a stupid question, it’ll be hard not to think of the Running of the Panthers.


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