We Are the Boys from Old Florida
"We Are the Boys from Old Florida" is a song commonly played and sung during University of Florida sporting events, most notably at the end of the third quarter at football games by The Pride of the Sunshine, the school's marching band. It is very similar to other school songs sung by several other colleges and schools around the United States, and its origin and original composer is unknown. At Florida, it has been popular since the 1920s.
"We Are the Boys of Florida" has been associated with the University of Florida since the 1920s. However, several other schools and universities across the United States—including the University of Chicago, the University of Nebraska, and the Toledo, Ohio public school system— sing very similar waltz-time tunes, often with very similar lyrics.
In Gainesville, Florida, the traditional story is that "We Are the Boys of Old Florida" was written in 1919 by Robert Swanson and John Icenhour, two University of Florida students, for their barbershop quartet or dance band. An obituary in a Toledo newspaper from 1953 claimed that a local man named Joseph Murphy wrote the tune and lyrics as "We're Strong for Toledo" in 1906. The University of Nebraska's records indicate that their version, "Dear Old Nebraska U", was composed by Harry Pecha in 1924. And a collection of University of Florida songs from 1941 attributes the Florida version to Thorton W. Allen, a prolific composer and arranger of band music in the early 20th century. As former University of Florida band director Harold Bachman wrote in a published history of the school's band, "No one seems to know for sure who composed 'We Are the Boys From Old Florida'." And although the University of Florida owns the rights to its band arrangement of the song, the tune and lyrics are in the public domain.
Whoever initially composed it, "We Are the Boys" has been a popular pep song with UF students and fans since the mid-1920s. It has been played at Florida Gators football games by The Pride of the Sunshine (the school's marching band) while students lock arms, sway, and sing since the 1930s. It was once played at random times during a break in the action, which limited fan participation since they were not prepared to sing. In the early 1970s, the band began playing it exclusively at the end of the third quarter, and audience participation increased so that almost all of the fans were swaying in time. Pep bands at other UF sporting events also play the song, often at a similar time frame - a break in the action well into the contest. Since the 1990s, a fast march arrangement which does not involve audience participation has also been played.
The University of Florida has been co-educational since the 1940s, and there have been several attempts to update the lyrics of "We Are the Boys" to reflect the school's many female students. However, though the alma mater and other traditions that date from the period when UF was an all-male school have been updated over the years, "We Are the Boys" has remained unchanged.
Traditionally, Gator fans lock arms and sway back and forth on the first beat of every measure during the waltz-time song. A shouted "Hey!" is added to the end of the first stanza and a shouted "Go Gators!" is inserted after the line "Down where the old Gators play." During the line "we'll all stick together," the word "together" is drawn out for two or three seconds while everyone holds their lean.
We are the boys from old Florida,
Where the girls are the fairest,
The boys are the squarest …
Of any old state down our way.
We are all strong for old Florida
Down where the old Gators play.
In all kinds of weather …
We'll all stick together…
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln, School of Music, Bands, Fight Songs. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
- Gary Kirkland, "F-L-O-R-I-D-A, or is it T-O-L-E-D-O?" Gainesville Sun (October 9, 2005). Retrieved August 11, 2009.
- John, Boothe (20 November 2009). ""We Are The Boys From Old Florida" covered for kids". The Independent Florida Alligator. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
- Macdonald, Peggy (31 July 2015). "We are the boys (& girls) from Old Florida". gainesville.com. The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
- Gator Traditions, Retrieved May 24, 2015.