Q&A: Another Day in the Life of UCF's Reflecting Pond

Q&A: Another Day in the Life of UCF’s Reflecting Pond

UCF’s iconic Reflecting Pond, the site of Friday’s Homecoming Spirit Splash, was one of the first structures built on the campus. Construction of the pond was completed in 1967, a year before UCF classes began, and it has always been the hub of the constantly growing university. The 225,000-gallon pool is used as the photogenic scene for many promotional materials and was visited by a U.S. president who gave his commencement message to graduates sitting in the drained concrete basin. Let’s allow the pond to tell us a little more about itself in this Q&A:

Where do you reside?

I spend my time between Millican Hall and John C. Hitt Library. I love being in the center of campus activities but I wasn’t even part of the original master plan for the campus. I was added as an afterthought by then-President Charles Millican as a solution to a terrain problem: an often dried-up pond that became a muddy pit several feet deep when it rained.

You’re looking good for your age. What’s your secret?

I haven’t gained any in size…I’m still 182 by 120 feet at my widest points, and go from 18 inches to 4 feet deep. I’ve been drained many times through the years for maintenance and to clean algae. In 1996 my floor was drained and painted bright blue over the gray so the water would look better. At first I had just one small spout, but in 2000 the maintenance staff put in three fountains to help my circulation and reduce algae.

What’s an average day like for you?

It’s great being the Reflecting Pond at the heart of the nation’s second-largest university with more than 60,000 students. Every day visitors stroll by or stop to sit a spell, maybe to study or talk or just reflect on the day. But occasionally my normally peaceful days are punctuated by bursts of activity, such as when President Nixon came to campus in 1973 to give a commencement address, or for Spirit Splash, the annual Homecoming pep rally when thousands of students jump in. The National Association for Campus Activities in 2011 gave Spirit Splash the best campus tradition award, and Florida Leader magazine called the event the best university tradition in the state.

Tell us about your family.

I have relatives all over the world, and some of them have become quite well known, too, such as Walden Pond in Massachusetts, Monet’s Water Garden Pond in France, Kew’s Waterlily Pond in London, and others, including one distant cousin that has a different last name, Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.

What are your favorite movies?

On the Waterfront, Blue Lagoon, and, of course, On Golden Pond, in which Katharine Hepburn’s character, Ethel, even mentions UCF:  “You’re my knight in shining armor. Don’t forget it. You’re going to get back on that horse and I’m going to be right behind you, holding on tight and away we’re going to go, go, go!” At least I’ve always thought she was talking about Knightro and Pegasus.

Do you have any pet peeves?

Yes, when people call me the Reflecting Pool or Reflection Pond…the name is Reflecting Pond!

What is something that most people may not know about you?

In the early days of the university, when there was an official disc golf course through the middle of campus, one of the “fairways” went right over me.

What final advice do you have for the UCF community?

I like the “pond” advice by futurist author Joel A. Barker about people’s actions because it applies to everyone at the university: “When you drop any new idea in the pond of the world, you get a ripple effect. You have to be aware that you will be creating a cascade of change.”

Spirit Splash will be 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, at the Reflecting Pond. There will be guest speakers, free T-shirts and lots of toy ducks. For other Homecoming events, visit http://osi.ucf.edu/homecoming/home/.