Each year as spring begins everyone in a certain tiny southern locale starts to think about it. The anticipation builds with each passing day. The days get a little warmer, the flowers are blooming, the air starts to smell a little sweeter. The tradition is legendary. Ask anyone who has been there to partake in it and you can see the glint in their eyes as they hearken back to whatever year it was they were first exposed to the glory of the event. The two words have a certain magic that when spoken, like spring itself, infuse the human spirit with a renewed vigor and drive. It truly is a tradition like any other..... Fox Day.
The small southern town is Winter Park, Florida. Home of Rollins College. Fox Day has been a tradition at the school since 1956. That year the college's president, Hugh McKean, responded to a student's request to "do something as a college" by inventing the day. As McKean explains on the Rollins website
|The famed fox|
And so the tradition was born. By the time I got to Rollins 30 years later, the day had reached legend status. The first time someone explained to you "we'll get up one morning, there will be a fox statue in the middle of the campus and all classes will be canceled," you were certain they were b.s.ing you. But it eventually happened and the glory of the day was bestowed upon you. Big cookouts on campus, hundreds of young men and women (oh, those Rollins women) at the pool, others piling into their cars and heading to the beach, frisbee golf and all the other things young adults do on a beautiful spring day.
Then came sophomore year. This is the year one is introduced to Fox Day Roulette. In the 3rd week of March rumors start swirling about what day on the calendar Fox Day will actually land. You start looking at the forecast to see when the weather will be perfect. You cross-reference with your friends to see which days don't have tests scheduled. The roulette part comes when you decide to stay out late, blow off your studies and gamble that tomorrow will be Fox Day. It's a serious roll of the dice. With each passing beer or shot or Purple Jesus, you pray a little harder that 'Ole Foxy will be hanging in the lawn come morning. If you guess wrong, that 9am anthropology class can be rougher than sitting through a double-feature of The Bounty Hunter and The Back-up Plan followed by having dinner with the guy from the Arbys good mood food commercials.
Rollins College held Fox Day today. It was sunny and 80 and the young coeds celebrated it in traditional fashion. 25 years ago I was a sophomore at Rollins and was already 0-2 in my attempts at Fox Day Roulette. But like Christmas to Whos down in Whoville, the day came, along with the burgers, the frisbee golf, the girls at the pool and a renewed sense of "life is good." When you're 19 years old you shouldn't really need to be reminded of that, but it's nice none-the-less.
Happy Fox Day.
(does your college have a similar tradition? tell me about it in the comments section.)