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At Eckerd, some traditions are steeped in pomp and ritual; others are offbeat and creative. Here is a look at some of the more popular campus traditions.

Families holding lit candles while reading

Ceremony of Lights

The annual Ceremony of Lights marks the beginning for every new student, when the flame from the Lamp of Knowledge is passed along by hand-held candles until the evening air glows in soft light. As our president has said, “With each Ceremony of Lights we rekindle our commitment to a personalized education for a higher purpose.”

Students at outdoor club fair


The last two weeks of spring semester are chock-full of activities dubbed Springtopia: cookouts, outdoor concerts, comedy nights, charity events, games like innertube water polo, and more.

Pet blessing

Pet Blessing

Every fall, Eckerd community pets get a special blessing on the day of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Thanksgiving celebration

Thanksgiving Day Dinner

Since the average student is 1,000 miles from home, the Dean of Students hosts a formal catered Thanksgiving Day dinner for those who stay on campus. Faculty and staff also participate. After dinner there are games, crafts and football on TV.

Professor Weppner with students

Fridays with Faculty

Monthly Friday happy-hour gatherings at the Triton’s Pub are organized by ECOS, so students can interact informally with professors over free beer (for those 21 and over) or root beer (for those under 21) and free food.

Students at Halloween Ball

Halloween Ball

Students throw a festive costume party at a favorite downtown St. Petersburg venue each year to celebrate Halloween.

Student on stage in front of crowd

B.S. Ballet

An Eckerd College tradition since the 1970s, the B.S. Ballet brings together students to write, create, direct and perform a parody of campus events and various topics that occur throughout the year.

Kappa Karnival

Kappa Karnival

Begun as a homespun event in the Kappa residence hall, Kappa Karnival has grown into a full-blown, day-and-night carnival (think Ferris wheel and merry-go-round). It’s held on the Saturday before the last week of Spring Semester classes. Watch a Kappa Karnival video. Or two or three.

Kon Tiki race

Kon Tiki Raft Race

Dating back to the 1980s, the Kon Tiki Raft Race gives students a chance to show off their creative side with zany homemade watercraft.

Students in a drum line during Festival of Cultures

Festival of Cultures

Organized by International Student Services and held each year in Hough Quad, the Festival of Cultures is the most ethnically colorful campus event of the year, featuring native food, music, national costume and history.

Two male students at late night breakfast

Late-Night Breakfast

Students take a break from studying during finals week to be served breakfast enthusiastically by Executive Staff and faculty members in Café Bon Appétit.

Female student holding a tiny graduation cap on her albino pet ferret's head

Pet Graduation

Because we were one of the first colleges in the country to allow pets in residence halls, we hold a separate Pet Graduation several days before our students’ Commencement, complete with a certificate for each pet.

Audience inside the chapel


A solemn ceremony held in Wireman Chapel on the eve of Commencement, Baccalaureate features a concert choir and remarks by the College President.

Commencement tent


Eckerd’s motto is ThinkOutside, so it’s fitting that Commencement is held early on a Sunday morning in May under a large white tent on the South Recreation Field. Since it’s right next to South Beach, a post-Commencement jump into Boca Ciega Bay is also a tradition for some students. It’s not uncommon for graduates to accept their diplomas in bare feet or accompanied by their pet friends.