The Daily Gamecock

Parents Weekend: USC Traditions


USC is a place built on tradition. We are all pretty familiar, or becoming so, with many football traditions, such as Sandstorm and singing the alma mater at the end of games. But there are many other traditions that also contribute to the culture of Carolina.

The Clapping Circle

One of the smallest yet most iconic Carolina traditions, the clapping circle, is sure to delight anyone who experiences it. This recognizable circle of bricks is located on the sidewalk between Davis Field and Russell House. Every so often, you’ll see a student or a family member standing in the center, clapping and exclaiming or looking slightly confused at the unusual sound a clap makes from the middle. This is definitely a classic Gamecock experience. And don’t worry about looking silly — that’s half the fun.

Melton Memorial Observatory

Sometimes nothing can be better than a cool fall night spent gazing at the stars. But in an urban area, even a small one like Columbia, it can be hard to get a good view.

Luckily for us, on Monday nights from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. when skies are clear, Melton Observatory allows students to get a good look at the moon, stars, planets and whatever else happens to be floating around that night. The observatory is located at 1429 Greene St. (where Bull and Greene streets intersect at the top of the hill).

The observatory recently added a live video stream to their website that broadcasts during public viewing hours for students who can’t be there in person. (If you're here Sunday night, be sure to check out the "supermoon" lunar eclipse set to occur a little after 10:00 p.m!)

Chicken Finger Wednesday

A more recent addition to Carolina’s traditions is the famous Chicken Finger Wednesday. Every Wednesday at lunchtime, the Grand Market Place in Russell House and the Honeycomb Cafe in the Honors Residence Hall serve the classic combination of chicken fingers and curly fries. It is the most anticipated meal of the week, and already busy dining halls are overflowing. If you have yet to experience this tradition, make sure to put it on your calendar. After all, who doesn’t want to return to one's childhood, when the only food you'd eat was chicken fingers and fries?


Located directly outside of the south side of Williams-Brice Stadium for the past 25 years, the Cockaboose Railroad has made its mark on the USC campus as the official sign of tailgating. What started out in 1990 as a way to use the old railroad tracks outside of the stadium soon flourished and took on a life of its own. The once empty tracks now consist of 22 luxurious, stationary cabooses lined on the railroad track fully equipped with running water, cable television, air conditioning and a living room. On the outside every car is identical, all appearing in garnet paint, with a Gamecock logo and a rooftop deck, but the inside of the cars are all different and up to the owners to decorate how they please. These well-known tailgating spots are coveted by many; in fact, one seller asked for $299,000 for his Cockaboose. 

Carolina Fight Song

The Carolina Fight Song has changed many times over the years but has remained the same since 1967. The song is to the tune of “Step to the Rear” from Broadway play "How Now, Dow Jones." The music was chosen as the USC Fight Song by former football coach and athletic director Paul Deitzel. Deitzel wrote the lyrics to the song himself and is known for creating the Gamecock logo we have today. The Carolina Fight Song is a symbol of alliance among students and shows pride and allegiance to, not only USC, but to the varying athletic programs.

—Compiled by Emily Barber and Camille Doloughty