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Sun Devil Athletics brings back Victory Bell in return to tradition

cheerleaders ring victory bell
November 19, 2012

Back in April, Sun Devil Athletics announced its intent to restore the tradition of Sun Devil Football at Camp Tontozona. By the end of May the campaign was announced a success and from Aug. 14-18, head coach Todd Graham and the rest of the team called the famed mountain retreat near Payson, Ariz., home.

Now, the school is bringing back the custom of ringing the Victory Bell, a tradition that dates back to the 1930s.

"I just love the pageantry of college football," head coach Todd Graham says. "The tradition, the customs - all of it helps enhance the experience for student-athletes, coaches, staff, fans, supporters and alumni."

The original bell began at Arizona State Teachers College in the late 1930s as a dinner bell that hung in the dining hall and summoned students to meals. Shortly after, however, the bell started being sounded for athletic victories, thus becoming the Victory Bell.

Ringing the bell called students and fans to the stadium before each football game, and commemorated each win - the number of rings equaled the number of points scored by the Sun Devils.

However, in 1956, Senator Carl Hayden donated a piece of sandstone from the original White House, and as part of the christening ceremony for the opening of the Memorial Union, the bell was installed on this pedestal and given a place of honor on the west patio. The bell was removed some time in the 1970s when the Memorial Union was remodeled and disappeared from the Tempe campus.

The ASU Undergraduate Student Government purchased the new Victory Bell as a gift to the students, student-athletes, alumni, and supporters of Arizona State University. Cast in 1941 by the 19th century Meneely Bell Foundry, and 18.75 inches in diameter and 150 pounds, this bell closely resembles the original in both size and model.

It is mounted on a custom Maroon and Gold wagon, and is portable and will be present at all sporting venues to ring in victories.

A Victory Bell Honor Guard, which will be made up primarily of ROTC students, is also being established to accompany the bell when in public and at Sun Devil Athletics events.

Dates are being discussed to use the bell to call students to dinner at the dining halls as a way to welcome the Victory Bell back to campus life and recreate the tradition of the original bell transitioning from dinner bell to Victory Bell. Details on how the bell will be utilized following Sun Devil victories are also being considered.

The Victory Bell that is currently outside the Southeast Entrance at Sun Devil Stadium was a gift to ASU students from Judge Ross F. Jones in the late 1960s. It was intended to replace the original, smaller bell, but was too large to transport and eventually developed a crack in it that does not allow it to ring anymore.

About the new Victory Bell:
The new bell is a cone top and was cast in 1941 by the Meneely Bell Foundry in Watervliet, N.Y. The Meneely Bell Foundry was founded in 1826 in West Troy, NY (which later became Watervliet) and closed its doors around 1951 after producing approximately 75,000 bells while in business.

About the Victory Bell at the Southeast Entrance:
It weighs more than 2,000 pounds and is believed to have come from Michigan around 1879 on a freight shipment to Winslow via the Santa Fe Railway.