Last Saturday marked the 120th Big Game matchup between our California Golden Bears and the Stanford (Stanfurd*, to be precise) Cardinal in football. Not is the week of Big Game exciting for Cal Football, but it is very exciting in terms of Cal Spirit. One of the organizations I’m involved with on campus, the UC Rally Committee, has dedicated countless of hours of their time during this week to rally the most of campus spirit for this game.
It all starts with the lights. **cue All of the Lights by Kanye West** Not only is our lovely Sather Gate, as seen above, lit up in blue and gold, but many other buildings on campus are also decked out for this week. Wheeler Hall, Doe Library, and the Campanile are all lit up in our school colors. The Campanile even has different gobos, or light stencils, projected up on it every night. Different Big Game week banners are hung up all over campus to share all the different events on campus.
The committee puts on all sorts of events during this week. The first is the Cable Car Rally in San Francisco. Starting at Ghirardelli square, several members of Cal Spirit cram into a cable car to spread the Cal spirit all throughout the city. San Francisco is a bit between sides when it comes to Cal and the Furd, so this rally is meant to help push them to the right side.
Next up is the Tree Chopping Rally. Every Big Game Week, we bring out the Cal Logging team to Sproul to demonstrate a little more on our rivalry. Stanfurd’s secondary mascot is the tree. And of course, we want to beat the tree during the game. We demonstrate this on the Sproul steps, when we bring our logging team out to chop some (recycled!) trees on campus.
Following that, we have the Big Sing. Cal has many notable A Capella singing groups, and this event is dedicated to that. We have many fun songs about our rivalry with Stanfurd, and this event is full vocal music and songs like “Stanfurd Girl.” Who doen’t love A Capella?
We also have a night rally every Thursday night before Big Game. This is when Cal Band and the rest of Cal Spirit march through Greek Row and the residence halls to remind students of the game coming up. One of the things that the Rally Committee does during this rally is spellout! I’m pretty sure I’ve done this every year I’ve been here, and this year we got to spell our “Get the Axe!” If you aren’t familiar with this, the Axe is the trophy that gets passed between the two teams during Big Game. It is a real axe, although the handle is gone and it’s bolted to a wooden placeholder, but it’s still pretty cool.
But of course, the biggest event of the week, besides the game, is the Bonfire Rally. This is the biggest legal bonfire west of the Mississippi. The Rally Committee spends hours building this bonfire structure that heats up the whole Greek Theatre. Cal Football, Dance, Cheer, and other guest speakers come out to hype the students. We’re taught the “Axe Yell”–a chant we save specifically for the Big Game. And when the fire starts to die, we send out our young freshmen for “Freshmen more wood” to throw more planks into the fire. It’s one of those must-go events on campus. You have to see that fire at least once in your Cal career, and let me tell you–it’s lit.
Of course we all make it back to the game. Big Game sells out every year, as fans battle with Blue and Gold versus Cardinal red gear. There is never a moment where the stadium is quiet, and you can even feel the stadium shake from all the bustle of the fans. Although the Bears didn’t win last Saturday, my Cal Spirit is still there. We’ll get them next year. Go bears!