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Happy anniversary, Smokey! Saturday marks 67 years since Smokey was chosen as UT mascot

On Sept. 26, 1953, Smokey was picked to represent the University of Tennessee during a contest to find a live mascot for the school.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Many dogs fill the University of Tennessee's campus. Some students keep them in their rooms, some bring them to class, and some frolic in the university's parks after classes are over.

But there is only one dog known far and wide, by almost every University of Tennessee student and staff member — Smokey. The Bluetick Coonhound is the university's mascot and represents the spirit of the Vols during football games. Saturday is the 67th anniversary of when he was given that title.

He was picked on Sept. 26, 1953, during a contest to pick a live mascot for the school. Reverend Bill Brooks entered his dog, "Blue Smokey," and it was the last dog announced during halftime at a Mississippi game. The dog howled when his name was called during the competition, and students loved it.

They burst into applause for Brooks' dog, and so Smokey was chosen as the university's mascot.

Now, the university is on Smokey X. He won't be able to make an appearance this football season, due to safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. No mascots will be at games this year, officials said.

But Smokey will still be around, helping to keep the Vols spirit alive.