Smokey sightings are about to skyrocket: Rocky Top’s favorite dog will be popping up in unexpected places around the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, this weekend with the unveiling of statues honoring the 10 bluetick coonhounds that have served as the campus’s mascot.
The official reveal will take place before the annual Orange and White Game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at the new statue near the Pedestrian Bridge by the Student Union Plaza.
Visitors can see the statues at the UT Gardens, the Tennessee Recreation Center for Students (TRECS), the corner of Lake Loudoun Boulevard and Phillip Fulmer Way, Circle Park, Hodges Library, the courtyard between Strong Hall and Clement Hall, the Student Union Pedestrian Bridge, Gate 21 of Neyland Stadium, the Hill, and the Engineering Quad.
The idea came from Student Government Association members who wanted a statue designed and erected on campus to honor Smokey. The students brought the idea to university administrators. Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Jeff Maples helped move the project forward.
“We’re proud of our campus traditions, and this seemed like a unique and exciting way to celebrate one of our longest-running traditions,” said Maples.
A committee of staff and students was formed and decided to expand on the idea, suggesting that the campus erect multiple statues—one to honor each Smokey.
The fiberglass statues, slightly larger than life size, were designed by Chicago Fiberglass Works, a company that has designed projects for many universities.
History of Smokey
The UT Pep Club ran a contest in 1953 to select a mascot for the university, and it was decided that the new mascot would be a hound dog. The first Smokey was chosen during halftime at the Mississippi State game on September 26, 1953, by applause from the crowd. Brooks’ Blue Smokey, owned by Rev. W. C. Brooks, was last in the line of dogs vying for the title. The crowd cheered, Smokey barked, they cheered some more, and he kept barking.
Katherine Saxon Keith (865-974-8365, firstname.lastname@example.org)