50th Anniversary; UWF--TRADITIONS--CAPTAIN THUNDER (ALLIGATOR)
The Ed Ball Nature Trail was dedicated in November 1969 by Ed Ball, a banking and railroad magnate in Florida, and initially funded by the Edward Ball Wildlife Foundation, which built boardwalks on the trail. In 1972, the Pensacola Lions Club provided funds to adapt the trail for the visually impaired, and a 100 foot long pedestrian bridge across Thompson’s Bayou was building in 1975.
&nnsp; In 1981, a naming contest was held for a five-foot alligator that had taken up residence in Thompson Bayou, and appeared to have a crooked tail, possibly with missing or deformed feet. After a year of being fed by visitors, the campus held a naming contest and student Lucinda Ellis won with "Captain Thunder of the University Marine Patrol." The first gator adopted by the University of West Florida was "Randi." Randi was purchased by a boy from Quebec for a school project and later decided to send him "home" to Florida. Brom Nichols, Director of Engineering Services in 1969, recalled the telephone call and he said "Send him home! We’ve always wanted a French-speaking alligator." Eastern Airlines called a few days later "begging" the University to come pick him up and Randi was launched from a sand bar into Thompson Bayou. At the time two other alligators were known to lurk on campus, both near the sewage treatment lagoons. One of them, a six-footer, had been delivered to campus in the backseat of a game warden’s car. (UWF Fountain Sep 18, 1981)
Physical Description Note
Photograph from UWF Archives of photographs received from University Photographer Tom Carter in 1994. Used in 40th anniversary exhibt, XL105
Publisher: Originally published as part of Library's 40th Anniversary website
Contributor: UWF Photographer Tom Carter