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Grab Your Jackets Travel Blog: Homecoming Traditions

Family and friends on every corner

Louisville v Georgia Tech Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images
Virginia v Georgia Tech Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Its that time of year again. Time when you know that you always have a place to come home to. If you haven’t been able to make it to any other games this year, then this is the one you want to see. Alumni and undergrads alike turn out to enjoy the fun and celebrate the good times they have enjoyed at Georgia Tech... so pretty much any time they weren’t in class for E-Mag (Physics 2).

Georgia Tech v Virginia Tech Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

This week we return home to watch the Techmo bowl and take on our rivals from VPISU. The last school from Virginia didn’t treat us well so expect there to be some pent up frustration from the players and the fans going into the match.

For this week we are focusing more on GT traditions and discussing the campus in more detail than we have in previous weeks. Less focus on hotels or travel, more on just being back on campus and the fun things for alumni to enjoy.

Travel How To: Getting to Atlanta

Technically (hah... Tech-nically) I would say we have visitors from Blacksburg, but this is homecoming, so this article is more for the alumni of Georgia Tech. If you are coming from Blacksburg, it’s about a 6.5-hour drive straight down I-77 to I-85 south. Flying will have you driving to Richmond for a flight. Driving is probably the best option.

U.S. Downtowns Yearn For Vaccine As Merchant Traffic Falls 70%

If you’re a GT fan then you know where to go. It can be a struggle, most people don’t want to come back once you get out. Eventually though Ma Tech will call you home, and you need to answer. Stay with family, stay with friends, stay at a hotel, just try to stay near campus and you can’t go wrong.

Things to See: Georgia Tech Campus

The more things change the more they stay the same. There’s plenty of new and old to see on the Tech campus. I’m honestly always surprised they can continue to develop a place in the heart of downtown so rapidly as the time flies by. I’m gonna try my best to cover as much of campus as possible, but please excuse me if I don’t name your favorite building... there’s a lot of them.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 NIU at Georgia Tech Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Since we’re here for a football game the easiest building to find is Bobby Dodd stadium. For those not in the know, Bobby Dodd stadium is the oldest NCAA stadium still currently in use. Across from Bobby Dodd is Brittain Dining hall which, prior to the opening of the new dining hall in North Ave Apartments, was the primary dining hall on the East side of campus.

If you follow the road up freshman hill (or The Hill) you’ll see the Andrew Carnegie Library attached to the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons (CULC). The CULC building was one of Georgia Tech’s first attempts to establish sustainable energy on campus. the architecture of the Clough building is unique and its roof top greenspace is noticeable against some of the older buildings surrounding it such as the Skiles Classrooms which sit across from it.

The Georgia Institute of Technology Montgomery Knight Aerosp Photo by Philip Mccollum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

From the top of The Hill, you can turn left and continue walking to see the Tech tower on top of the administration building where it has stood since September of 1888. Across from it you’ll see the John Saylor Coon building which is currently used to house the school of Psychology. For undergrads, if you need some extra pocket change I believe the Psychology school still pays for participants in their experiments.

Wrapping around Ferst Drive, you’ll come across the Aerospace schools, highlighted by the Montgomery Knight and Paul Weber Buildings. If you’re unsure, they should have rocket nozzles outside or in the hallways of the building which make the schools easy to identify.

Voting Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

You can then walk up to the STAMPS building which is attached to the student center. if you go off the road to the Tech Green you will see the Campanile. Look for tennis balls in the campanile, those were left by students bold enough to climb the shaft. The tennis balls indicate how far up they got before they had to make a run from campus police.

This area of campus has more school buildings to see. They are eclectic, and you can see the generations the buildings were made in based on the architecture that the building has. There are the Architecture Buildings, Van Leer Electrical Engineering school, Howie Physics Building, The College of Computing (or CoC for short), and the Klaus Computing Building (or Super CoC for short).

If you get back on Ferst Drive and follow it all the way around you can see the Ford Environmental Science and Technology (FEST) buildings which is relatively new for some of the more modern environmental science majors. The MRDC, MaRC, and Love Engineering buildings are the more old school engineering practice buildings. The ISYE buildings are also nearby.

A group touring the Olympic Village on the campus Photo credit should read ROMY GACAD/AFP via Getty Images

The CRC which was first constructed for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games is still standing and is an exercise area for all students. Behind the Burger Bowl you can find the west campus student housing as well as the Couch building which houses the music school.

The flag building and Theater will greet you as you make your way around the entirety of Ferst drive. There are many buildings that I didn’t name, but I want to point out one more that is still standing. Engineer’s Bookstore (who makes sure to submit their picks each week. Thanks guys) can be found if your willing to walk away from campus to 748 Marietta Street. I always got my books on the cheap there, so thanks again.

Georgia Tech Traditions

If you’re a long time Tech fan you probably won’t learn anything new here, but we’ll run down the big ones anyway. We’ve covered the fight song and George P. Burdell in my previous articles, so those will be left out. This week I’m focusing mostly on more homecoming related events.

Heads up, due to rights issues I didn’t have much to work with picture wise. I did my best but some are not entirely accurate.

Birthday Cake London Marathon 2004
no, not like that
Photo by Fiona Hanson - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

The event that not everyone may be aware of is The Freshman Cake Race. Traditionally held on the morning of the homecoming game, the Freshman Cake Race is run before dawn (somewhere between 5 to 6 am) and is a foot race that in the past ran a winding path from Russ Chandler Baseball Stadium to Bobby Dodd Stadium. All competitors are intended to be freshman (students with 30 hours or less of academic credits). The race is split into 2 races for each gender group and the winner of each race will receive a cake and a kiss from either Mr. or Ms. Georgia Tech at the homecoming half-time show. All participants will receive cupcakes.

The race has come under scrutiny recently and attempts have been made to make the run more organized to prevent interference from outside attendees (some people like throwing things at the runners). Unfortunately because of this some have discussed cancelling the race. I hope they continue to have the Freshman Cake Race in the future, it’s a unique experience and fun to watch for onlookers.

Cycling Elephants Perform In Thailand
no... not like that either
Photo by Bronek Kaminski / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

The Mini 500 is a tricycle race conducted the week of homecoming the day prior to the game. The race is conducted by teams of racers using tricycles provided by the Reck Club. Tricycles can be modified with a single support brace, since college students tend to weigh more than 5 year olds, but are otherwise unmodified. The racers will run the cycle around Peter’s Parking deck for 15 laps (10 laps for female teams), with required pit stops where the front tire of the tricycle must be taken off and rotated.

The whole thing is completely ridiculous. Racers have to maintain contact with the seat, leading to many unusual stances taken in an attempt to go faster than other riders. The race has been covered in the past and there was a commercial about it a few years ago. Having been a participant that had to push the corpse of my tricycle across the finish line after it collapsed under my weight, I’ll tell you it is more fun to watch than to participate in.

Allegedly the mini 500 came about from the tradition of fraternities hazing brothers on campus by making them ride tricycles to class. I could find no actual evidence of this, but if that is the case I would like to say I prefer this form of hazing over the making kids drink until they collapse form of hazing.

The last tradition we are highlighting is the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade. The wreck parade has been a staple of homecoming since 1932 (although it was postponed in the years 1942 and 1943 due to fuel shortages associated with WW2). The parade has 3 sets of cars which run from McCamish Pavilion down Fowler Street to the corner of Russ Chandler Stadium at Ferst Drive.

The first set of cars in the parade are classic cars. Alumni bring in old classic cars which they have restored or maintained to show off to the public.

UK - London - Classic 1960 Bentley car on the Kings Road Chelsea
Maybe like this... except at GT
Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

The second set is fixed body cars. These are vehicles that have been cosmetically modified to match the theme of homecoming that year. These cars are not floats and usually have physical modifications to the actual car body which are put on display.

The final set, and the one which is most well known, are the contraptions. A contraption is a vehicle (usually a literal wreck of a car) which has been modified by students to run without their original drive trains. This means the students have to find a way to get the vehicle to move forward without using the components which transfer power from the engine to the wheels. A true engineering challenge.

Students have come up with some very creative ways to get around this problem. Some use manual power through having undergrads push a pendulum or rotate a gear drive to move the car forward. Some people will use water tanks to push a drive which transfers momentum to the tires. Some students have attached propellers to the engine to help pull the weight of the vehicle. Heck one year students created a miniature jet engine to help push their car forward with the car in neutral. This one is both fun to watch and participate in.

Georgia Tech Spring Football Game Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Man, homecoming is one of my favorite times of the year. Seeing all your friends and family and reliving all the good times on campus. I can’t help but enjoy the feel in the air when I get to come back. I’m really looking forward to coming back again this year and watching the Jackets take it to the Hokies. Go Jackets!!!