Auburn Traditions: Burn the Bulldog

jennings bio

Auburn-Georgia is the South’s oldest rivalry. According to legend the first Auburn-Georgia match up, on February 20, 1892, was the day the “war eagle” battle cry originated. The two teams have played nearly every year since that historic day.

Auburn vs. Georgia is my personal Iron Bowl. I grew up ‘behind enemy lines’ in Atlanta, Georgia: the land of red, black, and bulldogs. But my mom and dad made sure to keep Auburn tradition alive in our house. I learned the fight song before my ABC’s, rolled neighborhood trees after Auburn wins, and burned a paper bulldog before every Georgia game in the tradition of “Burn the Bulldog.”

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“Burn the Bulldog” was a parade and pep rally held the Friday before the Auburn vs. Georgia football game. Sororities, fraternities, and dorms would make crepe paper and chicken wire floats and parade them through the street of Auburn. The last stop being a pep rally on the edge of campus. Students yelled and cheered for each float as they were tossed into a bonfire. Music played, the cheerleaders performed, and the crowd chanted along.

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When my parents were at Auburn the floats were so large it took large groups of men to carry them, but in my family we just build a life-size bulldog from newspaper. The Friday night before the game we have a small bonfire, always burning our paper bulldog head first. Mom says that is the only way to bring good luck and football wins. Every dog  has his day, but we do our part to make sure it’s not Saturday!

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The official “Burn the Bulldog” festivities were suspended in the early 2000s because of bonfire accident at Texas A&M. Even though the bonfire celebration is no longer a large scale tradition, on my Friday night my family will be gathered around our fire-pit burning our paper bulldog, singing songs and chanting cheers. I hope it doesn’t rain, because nothing stinks like a wet Dawg.

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