From 1931 to 2019, Gator Growl at the University of Florida has come a long way. Originally cultivated as “Dad’s Day” back when UF was an all-men’s university, Growl has always held family, tradition and school spirit in its core. UF Homecoming and Gator Growl is recognized as the largest student-run pep rally in the entire world, bringing in acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Miller Band, Snoop Dogg, Robin Williams, Walk the Moon and many more. From a small group of students hanging out in the student union to setting off fireworks in The Swamp to jamming on Flavet Field, Gator Growl is enriched with tradition and a school spirit like no other. The week of homecoming includes events like Homecoming Pageant to Soulfest to Gator Growl, where alumni and students alike can immerse themselves in The Swamp to get ready for the big football game, while reliving college days and catching up with old friends.
1916: Dad's Day
The roots of Gator Growl stem all the way back to “Dad’s Day,” where the Father’s of the all-male student body would visit the University of Florida campus.
1924: Firing It Up
In 1924 the event became known as “Friday night pep-rally”. Before the pep-rally, students would have to gather their weight in firewood to gain access. A large bonfire was then formed during the event to signify the “Firing up” before the football game the following day.
1925: The Road to UF
In the demand for a growing city, Gainesville obtained it’s first paved roads in the early 1920s. These new roads gave way to more attendance during “Friday night pep-rally” than ever before.
1927: Skits and Performances
The increasing population forced the show to accommodate to an even larger audience! The addition of performers, live skits, and musical acts filled the show with excitement and anticipation in the late 20’s.
In an attempt to top the previous years, fireworks were introduced in 1928! This forced the show to be moved outside.
1932: Gator Growl
In 1932, the spectacle was deemed “Gator Growl” after a Florida Blue Key member replied in frustration “Just let the gator growl!” when deciding the shows new name at a meeting. The show was moved to Florida Field to incorporate the fireworks.0
1973: Tickets on Sale
Tickets to the show were free all the way up until “Cheech and Chong” performed at Gator Growl in 1973. This was considered the first big name act to perform at Gator Growl and attracted a larger audience than usual. Tickets at the time were 50¢ per person!
1976: Bob Hope
Once the nationally recognized comedian Bob Hope performed at Gator Growl in 1976, word of the pep rally quickly spread. After his performance, the reputation of Gator Growl soared!
1977: Bigger Show. Bigger Talent
Since 1976, many nationally recognized performers have been featured at Gator Growl!
2014: Flavet Field
In an effort to increase overall attendance and provide a more interactive experience, Gator Growl was moved to Flavet Field in 2014. Since then, the opportunities have been greatly increased with the addition of Food Trucks, a VIP section, and Pit Pass’!