Kirshner, Jessica

Bucket lists, we all have them.

The type of list filled with adventures and experiences we would like to participate in before kicking the bucket called life. Some people’s lists are filled with adventures like skydiving or traveling to a foreign country, while others are filled with completing a 5k or writing a children’s book.

Well, I introduce you to “The Bucket List” for students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This will be a series of experiences I feel like anyone, especially college students, can enjoy and participate in. I will kick off this series with one of my favorite and most underrated traditions here at UTK, s’mores at the Torchbearer.

We have all walked past the statue of bronze that sits by the entrance of Circle Park. As many may know, the Torchbearer is an official symbol of UT inspired by the university’s Volunteer Creed. The creed reads, “one that beareth a torch shadoweth oneself to give light to others.”

The first design was introduced in 1931 and featured a larger, middle-aged man. In 1967, students protested the design and were invited into the school president Andy Holt’s office to discuss the project. On April 19th of 1968, they came to an agreement and unveiled the present Torchbearer design that we all know and love.

Now how exactly did the idea of s’mores at the torchbearer come to be?

Even after reaching out to several UT alumni, no one knows the answer. Many assume that it was started by either a group of friends or student organizations on campus. The earliest mention of this tradition goes back to the 1980s, but I would not be shocked if it went back even further.

Get a group of friends together, grab the essentials for s’mores and go visit the Torchbearer. The “everlasting light” of the torch will perfectly roast your marshmallows and leave you with a simple and sweet snack. I recommend going right before the sunset to enjoy the sunset views or going very late into the night while staying warm under the stars.

The best part of all is that you may run into other Vols. This is a great way to possibly meet and make new friends, while socially-distanced and wearing masks of course. It is also a great way for upperclassmen to dim their own torches and light those of their freshmen friends, perhaps as a warm welcome to the spring semester on Rocky Top. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Jessica Kirshner is a junior majoring in Business Analytics. She can be reached at

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