Orange Bowl Collection Comes to UM

Thousands of materials to be preserved for public access

From left, two-time Orange Bowl Queen Jackie Nespral, A.B. ’89, and Special Collections director Cristina Favretto, admire Orange Bowl mascot Obie. Favretto and librarian Beatrice Skokan, M.A. ’99, M.A. ’01, look through documents.

After 62 years of colorful floats and high-stepping marching bands, Miami’s Orange Bowl Parade marched into history in 2002. But its legacy lives on at the University of Miami’s Richter Library, now home to the Orange Bowl Committee Archives.

Photographs and drawings of themed floats, parade route maps, even an oversize head of mascot Obie are among the rich trove of documents, objects, and memorabilia. Archival professionals are sorting and classifying thousands of items related to the famous parade, which attracted half a million people to Biscayne Boulevard in its heyday, as well as to the college bowl game and other athletic events such as the Orange Bowl Marathon.

“This collection records the people and events that have made Miami such a special and exciting city,” says William Walker, dean and University librarian.

The collection, expected to open to the public by 2013, offers an in-depth look at what went into “the Orange Bowl as an event, a business, and a phenomenon,” says Special Collections Department director Cristina Favretto. “It’s going to be of interest to historians of Miami and sports buffs, but also business majors, designers, musicians, and people interested in popular culture and a discipline in academia now called ‘material culture,’ which is the study of everyday life.”

UM trustee Arva Moore Parks McCabe, M.A. ’71, one of the first female Orange Bowl Committee members, helped the University acquire the materials. She says UM’s Orange Bowl connection dates back before its first national football championship in the 1984 Orange Bowl to the Palm Festival, created in 1933 to boost a South Florida economy hit hard by the Depression. Its bowl games were the precursor to the first Orange Bowl game in 1935. UM played both years, beating Manhattan College 7-0 in 1933 and taking a 33-7 loss to Duquesne in 1934.

McCabe, who took part in Orange Bowl parades while attending Edison High School, began saving items after joining the committee, some of which are now in the Smithsonian Institution. She is ecstatic that the bulk of what was saved from committee headquarters went to UM Libraries in December.

“We’ve been trying to get this into the University of Miami for many, many years,” McCabe says, “and at last it’s happened.”