On Oct. 4, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville celebrated Smokey’s 66th birthday on Ped Walkway from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In honor of Smokey’s birthday, the UT Traditions Committee set up a tent decked out with giveaways, free swag, a birthday card for Smokey and the chance to take a picture with the beloved mascot.
Veronica Webb and Roddrick Tooles, director and co-director of the UT Traditions Committee, oversaw the celebration of Smokey’s Birthday.
“Smokey’s birthday is something fairly new that we do,” said Webb. “I came here in the fall of 2017 and I know they started celebrating his birthday one or two years before that. When I look at Smokey, the phrase that comes to mind is ‘the goodest of boys.’ Although it is a very Gen Z, millennial phrase, dogs are considered a person’s best friend. I think having an actual animal, a dog, be present is something that people are able to resonate with.”
As the celebrations continued, many students expressed their admiration for Smokey as they checked out the event and signed Smokey’s card.
“My family is a die-hard UT family. I would come to the games and I just love smokey. I’ve already gotten three pictures with him,” freshman Ashlyn Nokes said. “I think Smokey brings a sense of unity because everyone loves dogs!”
After signing Smokey’s birthday card, freshman Casey Stophel shared what she believes makes Tennessee’s mascot so special.
“Smokey is the torchbearer. He’s the one who gets us hype during the games and all the time. Anytime I go to the football games and see Smokey run in the endzone, I am happy even if we are losing. If I saw him that would be it. I could die happy. He’s literally the goodest boy,” Stophel explained.
Stopping by the tent to wish Smokey a happy birthday, student Sikai Wang made his signature extra special by signing Smokey’s card in Chinese.
Wang said, “Smokey is special to me because of the Volunteer Spirit. That is what Smoky does for us. He helps light the way by being positive and never fearing anything.”
While this birthday celebration has only taken place for a few years, the Volunteer Spirit will keep this tradition for years to come. The Tennessee campus’ love and appreciation of the Bluetick Coonhound just goes to show Smokey truly is the goodest of boys.
Written by Julia Nadeau and Abigail Francis
Edited by Grace Goodacre and Christian Knox
Featured photo by Abigail Francis