UA Traditions

Bear Down, Arizona

Bear Down GymOne day in 1952 Jack K. Lee, an applicant for the UA's band directorship, was leaving Tucson by air following an interview with university administration. From his airplane window, Lee observed the huge letters on the roof of the UA gymnasium.

Inspired, he began to scribble down the music and lyrics to an up-tempo song. By the time his plane landed, he had virtually finished it. A few weeks later Lee was named the university's band director, and in September of that year, the UA band performed "Bear Down, Arizona!" in public for the first time. Soon thereafter, "Bear Down, Arizona!" became accepted as UA's fight song.

UA Colors

An early UA Letter Sweater.The UA's first school colors were sage green and silver – sage in reference to the indigenous sage bush and silver symbolizing the state's mining industries. In 1898, an editorial in the school newspaper named declared, "We think those colors well chosen, as they show originality and individuality."

The November 1900 issue ran an editorial suggesting that the combination of sage green and silver had "outgrown its usefulness." The writer asserts that school colors should produce a decorative college pin, flag or varsity sweater and the sage and silver failed to do so.

The December issue that year reported that a committee had been selected to review school colors and ultimately the students almost unanimously adopted cardinal red and navy blue as the new school colors.

Spring Fling

Spring Fling CarnivalSpring Fling has been a UA tradition since 1974. It is recognized as the largest student-run carnival in the nation, and it has grown to be the seventh largest event in Tucson with over 18,000 guests in 2012. Students flock to this special event for the typical carnival attractions: food, games, rides and entertainment.

However, all of this fun serves to crucially fundraise for 40+ diverse clubs and organizations on campus. Spring Fling showcases the student commitment in a way that very few universities can!

Pride of Arizona Marching Band

Pride of Arizona Marching BandThe first band at The University of Arizona was formed as a military unit in 1902 with twelve musicians. Since 1913 (a year after Arizona became a state) the UA has never been without a band. In 1951, women were allowed to join the marching band.

In 1967, the UA band provided half-time entertainment for the inaugural Super Bowl. In 1977, the band performed in President Carter's inaugural parade.

In 2009, the Pride of Arizona Marching Band was named one of the top five in the country by the College Band Directors National Association.

It now numbers more than 250 members, including a battery-unit drum line, award-winning baton twirlers, pom pom dancers and color guard.

UA's Alma Mater

UA Memorial Fountain"All Hail Arizona," composed by alumni Ted and Dorothy Monro, was adopted as our alma mater on May 7, 1926.

UA Official Songs

Fight! Wildcats! Fight! MusicFight! Wildcats! Fight! Arizona's first fight song was "Fight! Wildcats! Fight!" written in 1929 by Dugald Stanley Holsclaw, class of '25. Holsclaw went on to serve in the State Legislature for many years.

"Fight! Wildcats! Fight!" was officially introduced by the UA band at the 1930 Homecoming game and was also performed by Rudy Vallee and his orchestra over the NBC radio network that same year.


UA Homecoming CelebrationHomecoming celebrations are a UA tradition dating back to 1920 and possibly earlier. Only world war caused the University to suspend Homecoming festivities in 1918 and from 1943-45.

Beginning in 1949, the Homecoming parade was held through the streets of downtown Tucson. Now the parade circles the UA mall and includes 50 student-built floats. Between 60,000 and 70,000 alumni attend Homecoming which now includes more than 100 tents on the mall, with food, drink, fun and of course, the Homecoming football game.


ZonaZoo Student SectionComprised of 12,000 enthusiastic student sports fans, ZonaZoo is the biggest student section in the Pac-12. It offers special access to UA sporting events, special events and is open to all UA students.

The ZonaZoo even has a theme song.

Ringing of the U.S.S. ARIZONA Bell

Bell salvaged from the U.S.S. ARIZONA in 1941The U.S.S. Arizona bell is enshrined in the Student Union Memorial Center tower in memory of the 1,177 men who lost their lives when the battleship was destroyed in the raid on Pearl H arbor December 7, 1941. The bell is to be rung seven times on the third Wednesday of every month at 12:07 p.m. to honor the achievements of The University of Arizona and its community.

One of the Arizona's two bells salvaged, our bell was in the Puget Sound Navy Yard to be processed as salvage when then-U.S. Army Captain Wilber L. Bowers, Class of 1927, discovered it.

He took immediate measures to prevent its destruction and it was presented to the University in 1946. The privilege of being the first to ring the bell in its present location was properly reserved for "the man who saved the bell" and on September 11, 2002, Bill Bowers, at age 99, did his job.

Wilma Wildcat

Wilma WildcatWilma Wildcat was created when costume designers were attempting to make another costume for Wilbur and instead created Wilma. She made her first appearance on March 1, 1986 on a blind date with Wilbur.

Wilbur and Wilma were married on November 21, 1986 before the UA/ASU football game. Her primary responsibilities are women's volleyball and women's basketball.

Wilbur Wildcat

Wilbur WildcatThe UA hired J.F. "Pop" McKale in 1914 as Athletic Director and coach of all UA sports and his first football team made history. At a game against Occidental, an LA Times reporter wrote, "The Arizona men showed the fight of wildcats….." The name stuck.

In 1915 UA students met the University's first mascot – a real desert bobcat, named Rufus Arizona after the UA president Rufus vonKleinSmid. The practice of using a live animal as a mascot was discontinued in the mid-1960s. The first costumed-student mascot, "Wilbur" appeared during the 1959 football season and was an instant hit.

Territorial Cup

Territorial CupWhen football teams from The University of Arizona and Arizona Territorial Normal School (now Arizona State University) took the field on Thanksgiving Day in 1899, they never imagined that it would put them in the NCAA record book more than 100 years later.

The trophy that was awarded to the winner that day (ASU) and still is given to the winner of this annual football game, makes the Territorial Cup the "oldest trophy for a rivalry game in America."