USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘fountain’
Customs
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Fountain Run

My informant is a student USC and a member of the Greek community.  I asked him if he had any initiation stories or customs on the row or in his fraternity.  He chose to tell me about the Senior Fountain Run closely approaching.

Informant: The Senior Fountain Run happens every year at USC and it’s literally the entire Senior class running around the campus at night, drunk, and jumping in every fountain.

Me:  Why do you think this became a tradition?

Informant: I couldn’t tell you the real reason but its kind of one of those things I have always wanted to and the University lets us do it right before we leave. I mean we have like 20 fountains around campus that I walk by everyday, how could I not want to jump in?

Me: Ya makes sense, especially during these hot Spring days.  What are you looking forward to most, aside from finally jumping in those fountains of course.

Informant: Being drunk while I do it, haha, but I guess just seeing everyone that I haven’t seen in a long time, like friends from the dorms freshman year that I may not see anymore.  Probably gonna be a really nostalgic moment.

The fountain run tradition is one that has been long standing at USC and for good reason.  There is a non-spoken agreement between the students and staff that they can break the rules just this once to do something they have always wanted.  Its almost a gratuitous gesture by the University by thanking them and effectively saying, “you are about to leave, so we’ll bend the rules.”  The tradition certainly says a lot about the importance of the fountains to the students as well.

Adulthood
Customs
Festival
Game
general
Initiations
Life cycle

USC Fountain Run

Here the informant describes USC’s tradition of the Senior fountain run, and what it means conceptually to the USC community:

     Every year the seniors go on a fountain run, where they run through every fountain on campus. So every year the seniors of USC go on this fountain run, where they run through every fountain on campus, and they just get wasted, and they carry around, like, squirt guns full of tequila and handles and all this crazy stuff, and they dress in like the most ridiculous costumes, and its just kind of like a way for all the seniors to say goodbye to campus and like celebrate the end of their four years here and kind of leave their mark in terms of USC.

     I’ve heard about this tradition through my own personal experience: in having witnessed it and followed seniors around who needed help, and also, just through, like, you know, grandparents and parents talking about how, like, they did their fountain run several years ago, or not several…  decades ago! And it’s just pretty amazing It’s still a tradition today.

 

As can be seen from her impassioned description, the fountain run and USC’s traditions in general, mean a lot to both the informant and a great deal of USC’s community. With the fountain run having been practiced for decades, it is now an integral part of USC lore. As the informant says, it is an opportunity for bonding, and she claims to have been one of the students who follow the seniors help those who need it. Given the familial nature of this event, she too told me she will undoubtedly take part in this tradition her senior year, and expects to be followed by underclassmen then, just as she followed the seniors as a freshman.

Folk Beliefs
Magic
Material
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

“When you toss a penny into a fountain you can make a wish.”

I first heard this belief from my father, who would always take me to the Placentia Library on Sundays to read books together, when I was in second grade, about seven years old.  Outside, there was a large fountain that was beautiful and I loved to play around it.  One day my father handed me a penny and told me to toss it into the fountain. When I asked him why, he told me that whenever I toss a penny into a fountain of water I can make a wish and it’ll come true.  At the time I believed him, although I soon realized that this wish was much like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and making wishes after blowing away the seeds of a dandelion.  However, making a wish in a way lets me let go of something that I really want.  Now whenever I make a wish it is to release something I’m holding inside, and it feels like I’m lifting a burden off my chest.

This wishmaking is reflective of an optimistic, yet creative society where one can dream whatever one wishes.  It also goes along with the United States’ futuristic worldview, where one can do whatever he or she wants as long as he or she tries hard enough.  Dreaming and wishing is only the first step to achieving those goals.  I believe that this wishmaking is a very useful tool for helping people find out what their true inner desires are.  You know that what you want most is what you wish for, so all you have to do is wish, then work to make that wish come true.  I think this is also why it is appealing to many people as well, because the idea of wishing anything they want and having it granted without the work that goes along with it is a nice feeling, but it also help them figure out what they really do want in life at that moment.  I also think that the idea of wishing with water came from the idea of the wishing well where one could make wishes into a well but it somehow evolved into a fountain.

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