Student Co-Curated Exhibition Explores Orange Bowl Festival History

8-25-2016 1-57-13 PM

Design for a Busch Gardens Orange Bowl Parade entry, 1970. Orange Bowl Committee Archives, University of Miami Special Collections.

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

For many ’Cane fans, Miami Orange Bowl nostalgia comes with the territory of football season. But this year is special—marking ten years since the team kicked off their final season at the original home field. With the help of the archives, two UM undergraduate students have been gearing up for the anniversary.

Over the course of ten months, Andrew Wodrich, ’17, and Francesca Ciuffo, ’19, conducted research using the rarely seen records of the Orange Bowl Committee held by the University of Miami Special Collections. Their efforts have culminated in the first public display of the organization’s papers, titled Miami Celebrates: The Orange Bowl Festival, 1930s-1990s.

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Miami Celebrates: The Orange Bowl Festival, 1930s-1990s marks the first public display of the Orange Bowl Committee Papers.

Now on view on the first floor of the Otto G. Richter Library, the exhibition features original photographs, letters, and memorabilia, among other materials, donated to the University in 2012, highlighting six decades of Orange Bowl Festival events and many memorable moments at the iconic stadium.

The students co-curated the exhibition under the mentorship of UM librarians as part of the new Library Research Scholars Program, which promotes student engagement with the University of Miami Libraries’ research collections and service programs.

Aerial view of the Miami Orange Bowl, 1964. From the University of Miami Historical Photograph Collection, University Archives.

Aerial view of the Miami Orange Bowl, 1964. From the University of Miami Historical Photograph Collection, University Archives.

“I was really interested in researching Coral Gables and Miami history, and that led me to the work of the Orange Bowl Committee,” explains Wodrich, a neuroscience and history major from Michigan. “Immediately I became fascinated by the story of people, so many decades ago, working together to create something out of nothing.”

Wodrich and Ciuffo’s discoveries actually date back to even before the founding of the Orange Bowl Festival (which continues today as the Capital One Orange Bowl). One featured poster advertises the precursor bowl known as the Festival of Palms, held on New Year’s Day, 1932. The Hurricanes faced Manhattan College at downtown Miami’s Moore Park, winning 7-0. “It was an idea to attract tourists for the holidays, which the city desperately needed, economically speaking,” Wodrich says.

That game, they explain, set the stage for the Orange Bowl—its annual match-ups as well as the surrounding festivities. Burdine Stadium, later named the Miami Orange Bowl (and today’s site of Marlins Park) opened in 1937, just five years following the Palm Festival. But the elaborate pageantry, flamboyant parades, and slough of events now iconic to the Orange Bowl brand spread out far beyond the stadium walls.

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Francesca Ciuffo, who co-curated the exhibition as a freshman, discusses her work at an April reception celebrating the inaugural class of Library Research Scholars.

The parade is a prominent exhibition highlight, with large-scale illustrations of original float designs over its walls showing off a substantial creative investment matched by a variety of corporate sponsorships, from Busch Gardens to Eastern Airlines, Barnett Bank, and Coppertone. “It was a major undertaking. Earnie Seiler, today considered the ‘father of the Orange Bowl,’ selected the participants and established the lineup,” Ciuffo explains.

“The festival just took over the city,” says Ciuffo, a public relations and broadcast journalism major from New York. “People from all over the country and world were suddenly coming in droves for the attractions. There were tennis tournaments at Flamingo and Salvadore Parks, a regatta that started at the Pelican Harbor Marina, and of course there was the parade, which was held on Biscayne Boulevard.”

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“There is a strong UM tie throughout the history of the Orange Bowl that we really wanted to come through,” says exhibition co-curator Andrew Wodrich, ’17.

The final parade, held in 2001, capped off a 66-year tradition that still shines in the legacy of Seiler, who as City of Miami’s director is remembered as a creative and technical driving force in all areas of the festival. “He was a local football coach who just through persistence got this thing off the ground,” Wodrich says. “Originally he was out there on the street just waving down cars to get people to fill the stands.”

The exhibition additionally highlights some of the original members of the Orange Bowl Committee, including UM trustees Oscar E. Dooly and Arthur A. Unger, which Wodrich points out as a meaningful connection. “There is a strong UM tie throughout the history of the Orange Bowl that we really wanted to come through.”

Miami Celebrates: The Orange Bowl Festival, 1930s-1990s is on view through December 2016. The exhibition is sponsored by the Lynda and Michael Gordon Exhibition Program.

Photos by Brittney Bomnin.



Magazine Archives Provide a Closer Look at UM History

A historic University of Miami student-run magazine is now accessible online. Tempo documented events, activities, personalities, and trends covered by student journalists from October 1949 to April 1971, including photographs by ex-GI contributors. The most well-known student advisor for the publication was Wilson Hicks, former executive editor of Life magazine and pioneer in photojournalism, who joined the faculty of the University in June 1955.

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Tempo is one of the many award-winning publications from the University of Miami, and was honored by Sigma Delta Chi as the nation’s top rated college magazine for four consecutive years from 1950 to 1953. Other University publications that have won impressive honors in collegiate journalism include The Miami Hurricane, the official newspaper of the student body started in 1926 as University News, and the Ibis yearbook, which has been published since 1927. For more information, please contact the University Archives at (305) 284-3247 or k.tasa@miami.edu.



Records from Cuba’s Historic Ruston Academy

The Ruston Academy Records, digitized from holdings of the University of Miami Libraries Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), contains materials related to the Ruston Academy, a bilingual American school founded in Havana, Cuba, in 1920. Opened in September 1920 by educator Hiram Ruston and his sister Martha Ruston, the Ruston Academy was considered the premier American school in Latin America. Originally focused on providing an English college-preparatory education for the children of American expatriates in Cuba, it quickly grew into a bilingual academy with a multinational student body.


In the 1940s, Ruston expanded to include an elementary school, business preparatory program, basic English classes for Cuban students, and a boarding school, with enrollment measuring at roughly 750 students. After Hiram Ruston’s death in 1946, teacher James Baker took over the school’s administration, and James and his wife Sibyl inherited ownership of the school following Hiram’s sister Martha’s death in 1951. Ruston Academy relocated to a larger campus in 1955. The school was closed down by the Castro government in 1961, its former location having been used as a public school, storage facility, homeless shelter, and military intelligence facility by the Cuban government.

University of Miami Digital Collections feature a full run of Ruston Academy yearbooks from 1940-1960; photographs of the school, teachers and students, and alumni events; several issues of the school newspaper The Rustonian; and ephemera such as theater programs, graduation programs, and promotional materials for student recruitment.

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For more information, please contact the Cuban Heritage Collection at 305-284-4900 or chc@miami.edu.