Gator Growl

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Gator Growl
Gator Growl 2012 Logo.jpg
The logo for Gator Growl 2012
PredecessorDad's Day
Formation1923; 98 years ago (1923)
TypePep rally
HeadquartersGainesville, Florida
David Gunby
General Chairman
Logan Piper
Parent organization
Florida Blue Key
AffiliationsUniversity of Florida
WebsiteOfficial website

Gator Growl, produced by Florida Blue Key with artists funded by Student Government Productions,[1] is a student-run pep rally at the University of Florida that was founded in 1924.[2] It marks the culmination of Homecoming Week at the university.

Designated as the largest student-run pep rally in the world, the show is held annually on Flavet Field at the University of Florida. Before 2014, it was held in the University of Florida football stadium (Ben Hill Griffin Stadium).

Gator Growl is credited with inspiring Orange Peel, a similar event held annually at Oklahoma State University after a group of students, faculty and alumni traveled to Gainesville in 1995 to witness the event.


Gator Growl has been a University of Florida tradition for almost 100 years. Gator Growl has its roots in the tradition of "Dad's Day," a turn-of-the-century tradition in which fathers of the then all-male student body were invited to visit the new campus. In 1916, a pep rally replaced Dad's Day and "Gator Growl" was born.,[3] known as "firing up" enthusiasm for the next day's football game. In 1923, the tradition grew as skits, musical performances and guest speakers expanded the rally into a variety show. Students & alumni continued to express their Gator spirit by participating in cheers and enjoying performances by UF's Marching Band, Cheerleaders, and Dazzlers.

Over time, the Gator Growl production grew with the advancement of technology to its current scale. Today, it is a showcase of athletic talent and spirited tradition; a spectacle of fireworks, light displays, live music, and comedy. More than 500 student volunteers work for thousands of hours to coordinate the night of festivities for the University of Florida community. Producers, directors, assistant directors, and staff members are in charge of the production, execution, promotion, and dismantling of the show. These student volunteers earn Gator Growl its beloved nickname, "the world's largest student-run pep rally!"

The majority of the manual labor associated with this major production, however, is provided by University of Florida students who work at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center, the University of Florida's indoor sports arena. The event takes more than a week to physically set up and requires more than 200 student employees to do so. Because Gator Growl is always held the night before a home football game, these students must work all night to remove every trace of the event by the following morning. Like all aspects of Gator Growl, the physical construction is also student-run with primary responsibility falling on the Production Lead—the student technician charged with coordinating and supervising all of the other student employees. The Production Lead and the Head Electrician (also a student) will typically serve as an apprentice to the position the year prior.

As a longstanding tradition at the University of Florida, Gator Growl is a show produced by students for students and alumni. With a vision to reinvent the spectacle into a more interactive, exciting and intimate show while still remaining true to its origins, the event was moved from the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to Flavet Field in 2014, which offers an environment conducive to executing this vision. The venue change also reduces the need for an extensive single-stage setup, thus making the event tremendously more cost-effective.

In its long history, Gator Growl has been recognized by Good Morning America, Comedy Central, Entertainment Tonight and was even featured as an answer on Jeopardy!.


The main purpose of the pep rally is to motivate the Florida Gators to victory in their Homecoming football game. The show features performances from the UF Dazzlers, the University of Florida cheerleaders, and The Pride of the Sunshine marching band.

In addition to the cheers, there are performances from guest comedians, musicians, and entertainers who perform for the assembled students and alumni.

A special portion of the show is reserved for celebrity cameo appearances. In the past, cameo appearances have included countless entertainment icons such as David Letterman, Katie Couric, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Jonah Hill, and B.o.B.

List of comedians and performers[edit]

Year Comedian(s) and Performers
1977 Gabe Kaplan
1978 Helen Reddy
1979 Bob Hope
1980 George Burns
1981 Rodney Dangerfield
1982 Robin Williams
1983 Bob Hope, Irene Cara
1984 Bill Cosby, Herbie Hancock
1985 The Smothers Brothers
1986 Billy Crystal
1987 Jay Leno
1988 Steven Wright, Jerry Seinfeld
1989 Richard Jeni, Paula Poundstone
1990 Paul Provenza, Jeff Foxworthy
1991 Brian Regan, Tom Parks
1992 David Alan Grier, Larry Miller
1993 Garry Shandling, Dennis Miller
1994 Sinbad, Bobby Slayton
1995 Kevin Pollak, Anthony Clark
1996 Paul Rodriguez, Craig Shoemaker
1997 Howie Mandel, Jeremy Hotz, Michael Buffer, Sister Hazel
1998 Ray Romano, Dave Chappelle, Carlos Mencia, Larry the Cable Guy
1999 Pablo Francisco, Carrot Top, Craig Shoemaker
2000 Mitch Hedberg, John Pinette, D. L. Hughley
2001 Daniel Tosh, Dave Attell, Jim Breuer
2002 Bill Cosby, Harland Williams
2003 Sugar Ray, Christopher Titus, Arnez J
2004 Bill Engvall, Dane Cook
2005 Greg Giraldo, Wayne Brady
2006 Jim Gaffigan, Gabriel Iglesias
2007 Frank Caliendo, Lynyrd Skynyrd
2008 Jon Reep, Steve Miller Band
2009 Dana Carvey, O.A.R., JabbaWockeeZ
2010 Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, Dan Levy
2011 Joel McHale, Goo Goo Dolls
2012 Tracy Morgan, Josh Turner, Dara Torres
2013 The Fray, Sister Hazel, New Directions Veterans Choir
2014 Brooks Wheelan, Foster the People, Ludacris[4]
2015 Jana Kramer,[5] Echosmith, T.I.
2016 Passion Pit, Timeflies, Maddie and Tae, Waka Flocka Flame[6]
2017 Snoop Dogg, Daya[7]
2018 Walk the Moon, Ty Dolla $ign
2019 Chase Rice, Lanco, Blanco Brown


  1. ^ Chairman, SGP. "Student Government Productions".
  2. ^ "Founding of Gator Growl". Archived from the original on 2008-09-22. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  3. ^ At the original pep rally, legend has it that freshmen contributed their weight in wood to a giant bonfire
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2014-07-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Gator Growl 2016 Information". Archived from the original on 2017-07-17.
  7. ^ "Gator Growl 2017".

Historical voice of Gator Growl Karl Kaufmann, a 39-year tradition continues with his daughter Kelli Kaufmann

External links[edit]