The Horseshoe in a starring role
Oct. 9, 2010: ESPN GameDay. After several visits to the State Fair parking area, the ESPN crew finally set up on campus, and they loved it. The big trees, the old buildings, the students who spend the night in tents on the site — it just seemed more collegiate than a big parking lot and fair rides. An estimated 4,000 came through the Horseshoe gates during the show.
Oct. 22, 2007: Comedian Stephen Colbert, a Charleston native, arrived on campus to declare his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was greeted by a few hundred fans, and the speech was taped and aired on the “The Colbert Report.” Watch it here.
April 19, 1996: MTV “Unplugged” with Hootie and the Blowfish. An estimated 1,600 students packed the east end of the Horseshoe for what was the first outdoor taping of the “Unplugged” series. The chants of “Game” and “Cocks” made it into the opening. You can find clips from this on here.
Sept. 11, 1987: During his historic visit to Columbia, Pope John Paul II spoke to students on the Horseshoe before meeting with religious leaders in the president’s house. The students chanted “John Paul II, we love you.” He responded: “It is true, John Paul II, he loves you.” He ended his address by saying: “It is wonderful to be young. It is wonderful to be a student of the university. It is wonderful to be a student at the University of South Carolina.”
Sept. 20, 1983: Ronald Reagan became the first sitting U.S. president to visit USC since William Howard Taft in 1909. His speech on education drew nearly 9,000 people to the Horseshoe. After the ceremony Reagan was presented with a USC sweatshirt and cap.
Nov. 6, 1909: William Howard Taft became the first U.S. president to visit the Carolina campus while in office. A crowd of more than 2,000 faculty, students and Columbia residents gathered on the Horseshoe to hear him speak from the steps of the university’s original president’s house.
1861-1865: The university closed during the Civil War, but buildings on the Horseshoe stayed active, serving as a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers. That’s one reason the buildings survived Gen. William T. Sherman’s romp through town at the end of the war.
1801-1968: With a few exceptions (see Civil War), graduation ceremonies were held at the Horseshoe until moving to Carolina Coliseum in 1969. That means thousands of people marked a milestone of their lives between those brick fences. In 1957, the commencement address was made by a young rising star in the Democratic Party, Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts.