Remembering Traditions

If there’s one thing we’re certain about in 2020, it’s that everything is uncertain. Just ask any corporate advertisement ever (watch this video for a laugh).  

New announcements about fall at Georgia Tech are coming out every day, and it seems like many of our favorite campus activities are being postponed, moved online, or even cancelled altogether. Many universities are cancelling athletics too, meaning we’re likely to miss our favorite tailgates and homecoming in Atlanta. 

Current Yellow Jackets may miss out on many of the things we loved about our Georgia Tech experience. But in the midst of these unfortunate cancellations, we suggest looking back on better days. In remembering our traditions, we reassure ourselves that someday they will return, for us and future generations of Yellow Jackets to enjoy.  

We’d like to remind you of 3 traditions that made coming back to campus feel like coming home. 

  1. Ramblin‘ Wreck Parade –
    • The parade is held before every Homecoming game. 
    • It began in 1932 after Dean Floyd Field suggested a parade of contraptions instead of the “Old Road Race” to Athens. 
    • The Parade was held inside of Grant Field from its inception until the mid-1940s. 
    • The Wreck Parade has occurred every year since 1932 with the exception of 1942 and 1943 due to gas shortages during World War II. 
    • There are three classes of vehicles that are shown in the parade: Classic Cars, Themed Cars, and Contraptions. 
    • The classic cars are featured first in the Wreck Parade, and they have to be at least twenty-five years old. 
    • The themed cars are second to come in the parade. They are sponsored by different groups and are fixed bodies that have only been altered cosmetically. 
    • Finally, the contraption vehicles are the last to be presented. These are student fabricated and are judged based on creativity and effective operation.

  2. Pajama Parades  –
    • Held as part of RAT Courts from the late teens through the 1940s. 
    • Upperclassmen issued orders to freshman RATS to meet at designated location wearing pajama bottoms and a leather belt and bring a roll of toilet paper. 
    • Each rat held on to the belt of the student in front of him as they were paraded to downtown Atlanta from the campus. 
    • A frequent destination was Henry Grady’s statue on Marietta Street. 
    • The rats were told to drape the statue in toilet paper, which frequently ignited from the sparks on the overhead trolley wires. 
    • Sometimes the parades ended when the police were notified of the mischief. 
    • Dean Griffin was known for bailing the frazzled rats out of jail, if and when it came to that.

  3.  RAT Caps –
    • Introduced in 1915 by ANAK. 
    • Freshmen were required to wear them every day and everywhere on the campus until the freshman football team beat the Georgia freshman team on Thanksgiving. If Tech lost the game, the caps were worn until the end of the school year. 
    • The entering Class of 1917 was exempt because they were all in uniform. 
    • To be caught without a RAT cap was to face varying degrees of hazing from upperclassmen. This could be mild and administered quickly or more severe and require a hearing from the RAT Court. 
    • T-cuts were often administered by the RAT Court. 
    • When women enrolled, their punishment was to rat their hair and tie on ribbons for a period of time. 
    • There was a standard procedure for writing on the cap. 
    • The tradition died out in the mid-to late 1960s. 
    • Today, RAT caps are given to incoming freshmen as a symbol of Tech traditions and are often kept by alumni as treasured memorabilia of their college experience. 
    • The members of the Tech marching band continue to wear RAT caps. 

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