It’s March. The birds are chirping, spring is coming, and Orange Crush is around the corner. The infamous, unofficial Savannah State holiday will be celebrating its 30-year anniversary this year.
Orange Crush was started in 1989 by Kenneth Flowe, Dr. Ifekan Simon, and their SGA board. Flowe first brought the idea up of a beach party to the student leadership, and the group worked to create what we know and love as Orange Crush.
The first Orange Crush was a full agenda of events that started on Friday and ended on Sunday, much like today’s Orange Crush. On Friday, Flowe, Simon and their team planned a talent show in the day and a concert that evening.
Saturday was the usual beach bash with parties at night, and on Sunday everyone attended church together.
“The Ques had a swimsuit show at the pool in Wiley,” Simon laughed. “And we brought Salt-n-Pepa here for the concert because that’s who was really popping back then. Orange Crush was an event. It was a show.”
I asked Simon how he felt about the state of the relations between Orange Crush promoters and the city of Tybee Island, and he said that students need to be accountable for other students.
“We didn’t have a permit. We had responsibility,” said Simon. “We checked other students. We had guys like Shannon Sharpe on the football team, Van Johnson in SGA, I was on top of those guys.”
In order to continue the tradition, Simon feels students need to build a better sense of community and address the issues head on.
“You have to change the status quo. If it wasn’t cool to sag your pants, no one would be sagging. When you saw me on the beach, I didn’t have a red cup in my hand. Orange Crush isn’t about drinking. It’s about having fun and showing love,” Simon said.
Though we take efforts to clean the beach, we can’t control the actions of everyone. What we can control is our actions and influence the community around us through our actions. I think it’s imperative that we start chipping away at the stigma surrounding our university and Orange Crush, and the first step in that process is filling out the necessary permits with Tybee Island.
We often get caught up in our lives, but just thirty years ago, our school was facing some of the same issues we face today. Low enrollment was one of those issues, and Orange Crush was created to bring people here. It is a tool we can still use, but we must learn how to navigate the politics of our society.
Simon wanted to leave the students an important sentiment, he said, “If it doesn’t make you look good, and it doesn’t make Savannah State look good, stop doing it.”
I encourage everyone to enjoy Orange Crush, keeping it so future generations can still create beautiful, lasting memories.