What are the Tarleton traditions that run so deep?

Purple Poo. Purple Pancakes. Bleed Purple. When you think of Tarleton I am sure you think of something purple. Tarleton State is a place of rich traditions, and these traditions are usually a big selling point for many students. Rich in tradition means a few things; it is a one-of-a-kind campus experience, connected and engaged alumni, and lots of fun events to look forward to as a student. A 120 year old institution that has stuck to its core values and school traditions, we hope you fall in love with Tarleton like we have. 

Traditions. What are they? 


  1. the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.

Can you believe that Tarleton traditions have been being celebrated for over 100 years? How cool to be connected to so many Tarleton Alumni! 

What are Tarleton Traditions?

Purple Poo 

The Purple Poo evolved from the TTS/TTP spirit organizations. The still-secret organization gathers to make Poo signs each Monday night. The signs appear on campus every Tuesday morning and occasionally comment on campus political life and student life. The signs are nailed to the trees on campus and most are designed to promote school spirit. Purple Poo members appear in public dressed in costume to conceal their identity. Many members “un-mask” at the Leadership and Service Awards Ceremony each April while others choose to have their pictures appear in the Grassburr. At commencement, graduating members will pass a purple pig to the university president as they pass across the stage.

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Oscar P

Recent legend has it that John Tarleton had a pet duck named Oscar P who went everywhere with him. The two were so close that Oscar P is said to be buried with Tarleton. At various student activities, the Purple Poo rallies Tarleton students by raising the spirit of Oscar P. This is done by kneeling and pounding the ground while calling out “Hey, Oscar P.” 

Silver Taps 

The Silver Taps Ceremony, honoring those faculty, staff, students, and alumni, who died during the previous year, was held for many years in conjunction with homecoming activities. One of the most special events at Tarleton. 

Midnight Breakfast/Purple Pancakes 

On Thursday night during Homecoming week, a midnight pep rally is held to raise the spirit of Oscar P and show support for the football team. The pep rally is followed by the annual midnight breakfast which is sponsored, cooked and served by the Student Government Association. Midnight Breakfast began in 1983.

purple pancakes
Beating of the Drum

The 1920s marked the beginning of a tradition that is a favorite among Tarleton students—the beating of the drum. At the height of the rivalry between JTAC and NTAC, the burning of the opponent’s bonfire prior to the scheduled celebration was a popular undertaking. During this time, Tarleton students would station themselves around the perimeter of the rock wall to guard the bonfire. A drum was beaten 24 hours a day until kick off of the football game to discourage NTAC students from invading campus. Today, organizations and residence hall students carry on this tradition during Homecoming week by beating the drum on Tuesday evening and continuing until kickoff on Saturday. 

beating the drum
LV Risinger Bonfire 

The largest bonfire in the state of Texas! A tradition started during the 1920’s, the burning of the bonfire takes place on Friday evening of Homecoming week. The Plowboys organization is responsible for building and guarding the bonfire. 

plowboys bonfire

In 1984, a group of interested students established a spirit organization on campus and re-adopted the name “Plowboys.” The Plowboys attend athletic events and other campus activities and are familiar to students because of their white shirts, hats, and purple chaps

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There are many more traditions that the student body, faculty, staff, and alumni celebrate each year. These are just a few! To read more about Tarleton’s traditions and history, check out the Purple Book. All Tarleton students must read the Purple Book, (JK!!!! But we promise you will enjoy it). 

Tarleton is so special for a number of reasons, but traditions are at the top of the list. If you are ready to take the next step as a Tarleton Texan, apply for admission today! Picture your future self-eating purple pancakes at Midnight Breakfast, you won’t regret it!