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Hugh McKean with Fox, 1956
Rollins College President Hugh McKean with the Fox, 1956. Photo: Rollins College Archive

Fox Day at Rollins College

Fox Day is a rite of spring at prestigious Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida; it is a day of freedom, when students and teachers abandon classes to enjoy a spring day. An anticipated annual event, the tradition began on May 17, 1956, when college president Hugh McKean moved a ceramic fox to the green in front of Mills Memorial Library and, that done, cancelled classes for the day. The entire college was invited to a treasure hunt, picnic and square dance.

Originally the fox came from Senator Murray Sams who donated cat and fox statues from his home in New Smyrna. The two statues flanked the walkway to the Rec Hall. President McKean created the Fox Society for men and the Cat Society for women. Four students were selected each year for induction during a large campus ceremony. Only members of the societies could touch the statues. The qualifications for the Cat and Fox were "a subtle sense of human, finesse, and general attitude of blasé nonchalance."

Through the years, the celebration of Fox Day has grown in popularity. Always the option of the college president whether and when to celebrate Fox Day, students eagerly try to guess when and if the day will be announced. On the special day, the fox appears early in the morning, sitting on a wooden box, arms folded and accompanied by a proclamation and signed with a paw print. Mostly students head for the beaches but return in the afternoon for a late picnic, or even an Hawaiian luau, on the college grounds. After the picnic, students end the day with a gathering in the Knowles Memorial Chapel.

Project documentation includes several photos from the Rollins College Archives, a one-page report and a booklet entitled "The First Fox Days."

Originally submitted by: Bill McCollum, Representative (8th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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