Georgia Tech Traditions
Tradition is important at the Georgia Institute of Technology, with interesting and different traditions spanning many, many years. As the school has grown and changed, so have the traditions and ideas that they stand for. Several of the more famous traditions are highlighted here.
The Ramblin' Reck Club
In 1930, “The Ramblin' Reck Club” was founded (for the first time); also known as "The Yellow Jacket Club," their goal was to help strengthen school spirit. The club was also founded to oversee the freshman cake race and assist with the first Wreck Parades in 1932. The political power on campus belonged to the Yellow Jacket Club until 1944. In 1945, the student body was concerned that, with the new arriving freshman and the disbandment of the Yellow Jackets, that the old traditions of Georgia Tech would be forgotten or lost. To instill the tech traditions and keep them valid, a new traditions club was founded. The name of the new club was The Ramblin `Reck Club just as it was before; the only difference was that the new club was established in the end of July 1945. The first task on the new Ramblin' Reck Club’s list was to arrange pep meetings as well as traditions reviews for the new incoming freshmen. The Ramblin' Reck Club was formed to prevent domination from a political aspect by different social fraternities; therefore, the Ramblin ‘Reck Club only accepted two individuals from each fraternity or military program. In 1956, four years after tech became coed, the Ramblin' Reck Club became the first non-religious organization to accept a female member, Paula Stevenson. During The Ramblin' Reck Club’s era, the RAT (Recruiting at Tech) rules slowly faded away. When the new anti-hazing rules were brought up in 1965, it was very hard for The Ramblin' Reck Club to maintain their ability to punish freshmen that chose not to obey the RAT rules. However, the Ramblin ‘Reck Club was given a more nourishing duty. In 1967, the Ramblin' Reck Club was given charge of the actual Ramblin’ Wreck due to the disbandment of the Student Council’s Reck Committee. A member of The Ramblin' Reck Club, known by students as “The Wreck Driver," has been selected every single year to drive The Wreck. The driver's duty while sitting in The Wreck is to drive the wreck around campus, onto Grant Field for football games, and other school events and happenings.
The Ramblin' Reck Club was the first organization to use have human mascots on the campus of Georgia Tech. The absolute first mascot was a bumble bee donated by a female member of the Ramblin' Reck Club named Judi McNair. She wore the bumble bee costume during pep rallies and sporting events on campus. In 1973, a spandex-gold hero called T-man patrolled all around campus with his sidekick, T2, faithfully by his side. During their march around campus, T-man and his companion would look for mascots and fans of the opposing teams. At pep rallies, home basketball games, and other school events, T-man would perform encouraging spirit skits. He was very often spotted riding the rambling wreck as well. T-man’s identity was unknown during all of his years working as his alias; the only thing people knew was that he was an anonymous member of the Ramblin' Reck Club and that he disappeared mysteriously two years after his first time as mascot.
The Cake Race
Tech’s oldest homecoming tradition is called the Cake Race and started out in 1911 as a regular cross country race. The name emerged in 1913, when winners of the race for the first time received a cake. The wives of faculty and administration members, as well as the mothers and sweethearts of the runners, were the ones who baked the cakes for the winners. The earliest races where about two to four miles long and were run by volunteers; those volunteers were always freshmen undergraduates at Tech. The numbers of cakes made and awarded were dependent of the number of runners during the races in the early years. Throughout many years there were over a hundred; in 1929, a record showed that 160 cakes were made and awarded. The Cake Race was inserted into the annual homecoming celebration in 1935. There was also a similar event geared for freshmen who were not qualified for the main race because of physical limitations. Later, in 1954, it was decided that the homecoming queen (and later on the homecoming king) should present the awards (the cakes) to the winners of the race. In addition, the winners of the opposite sex received a kiss from the queen. This award ceremony ceased in 1970, as did the rule of the cake race being obligatory of the first quarter of freshmen. The most famous winner in the history of the Freshman Cake Race is former U.S senator Sam Nunn. There is an actual picture of him in the Georgia tech archives as he was receiving a kiss from the homecoming queen as his reward of being winner.
The Ramblin Wreck parade
One of many Georgia Tech Traditions, also considered one of the finest, is the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade. It takes place on the Saturday morning of the annual homecoming weekend. The Ramblin’ Wreck parade is sponsored by the Ramblin’ Reck Club and is led by Georgia Tech’s own Ramblin’ Wreck. The parade marches all the way from Alexander Memorial Coliseum, through Fowler Street, to Fifth Street, and continues up the hill to Techwood Drive. The parade originated from the old “Flying Flivver” races of May 1929 and 1930. The “flying flivver” race was a road race that ran from Atlanta to Athens and was founded by the Technique. The race eventually turned into a parade when the administration, led by the auto enthusiast and Flying Flivver race participant Dean Floyd Field, realized that having a parade would be less dangerous to the people involved in it; the road race was not only dangerous but also illegal. In 1932, the first Ramblin’ Wreck parade took place on the Georgia Tech campus. Dean Field led the parade in his 1916 Ford, a vehicle that people actually consider to be Georgia Tech’s first Ramblin’ Wreck. The Ramblin’ Wreck Parade contains three different entry categories: The contraption , the fixed-body, and the classic car.
Interestingly enough, the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade has developed throughout the years the inclination to change it to a more regular parade, similar to the kinds of parades that other colleges and universities usually arrange. This has continuously been opposed by the student body of Georgia Tech. The very unique character of the Ramblin Wreck Parade that has been preserved by the institute is supposed to be a tribute to the ingenuity that has made Georgia tech famous all around the world.
To learn more about Georgia Tech traditions, click here to view a Georgia Tech Traditions video.