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Sunday, February 05, 2023
<p>UF President Kent Fuchs poses in a football uniform designed to resemble his graduation robe his annual April Fools' Day prank.</p>

UF President Kent Fuchs poses in a football uniform designed to resemble his graduation robe his annual April Fools' Day prank.

UF President Kent Fuchs turned his commencement garb into a football uniform, Century Tower now plays 80’s music and Carly Rae Jepsen will perform at UF.

Or so students were led to believe.

Fuchs continued his tradition of jokes on April Fools’ Day. He has pulled a prank every year since he took office at UF in 2015. Other pranks this year included playing the song “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley at Century Tower and tickets for pop artist Carly Rae Jepsen to go on sale through the UF Performing Arts Center on April 31 — a day that doesn’t exist.

“The month of April is a hard month, in terms of stress with finishing up the semester,” Fuchs said. “I try to inject just a little bit of levity, often making fun of myself. It’s the only time of year I can get away with it.”

Past pranks include UF and FSU announcing a merger in 2016, and Fuchs and then-football coach Jim McElwain switching jobs in 2015.

Last year, instead of pulling a traditional prank, Fuchs announced the temporary “Food for Fines” program that allowed students to donate food to the Field and Fork Pantry to forgive parking tickets.

This year’s prank featured a series of posts across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on UF accounts building up to a video of Fuchs in a football uniform made to resemble his commencement robe. The jersey had No. 12 on the back as Fuchs is UF’s 12th president.

The video did not cost any money to produce because it was done internally, Fuchs said. The theater department’s costume shop made the uniform, and the UF Athletic Association filmed the video.

The plan has been in the works for about a year. Permission from the athletic department was needed as the football uniforms were involved, Fuchs said.

“We don’t want to make fun of them, we just want to have fun,” Fuchs said.

The UF Performing Arts Center and a student in UF Carillonneurs, a student group that performs on the bells in Century Tower, had their own prank ideas.

When UF Carillonneur Wade Fitzgerald, a 21-year-old UF music and biology senior, saw he was scheduled to perform in the Century Tower on April Fools’ Day, he decided it was an opportunity for a prank.

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Instead of playing what he was scheduled to perform, he “rickrolled” students by playing “Never Gonna Give You Up,” a song by Rick Astley in 1987. Rickrolling is a meme involving the song’s unexpected appearance.

“There was a real program, I just didn’t play it,” Fitzgerald said. “It caught people by surprise.”

The UF Performing Arts Center posted a promotional video for a ticket sale on April 31 to a Carly Rae Jepsen concert, a day nonexistent on the calendar.

The joke was in response to a series of memes about the artist on the Swampy Memes for top 10 public teens Facebook page, said Samuel McKee, a spokesman for the UF Performing Arts Center.

“It was a fun idea we came up with a couple weeks ago and were able to put together pretty quickly,” McKee said.

Jacqueline Saquibal, a 20-year-old UF applied physiology and kinesiology junior, saw the post on her Facebook feed while doing homework at Marston Science Library. She was eager to go until the phony date caught her attention, she said.

“I’m not the biggest fan, but I do really like some her songs,” Saquibal said. “I definitely would have gone if it was a real concert.”

UF President Kent Fuchs poses in a football uniform designed to resemble his graduation robe his annual April Fools' Day prank.

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