Commissioning Week Traditions, Folklore, and Pranks



The Color Girl tradition has been over the last twenty years controversial, in an unusual way. It all happened because women entered the Naval Academy. See below chart for time line of tradition.

The traditional ceremony occurs during the Color Parade when the U. S. Flag, the Naval Academy flag, the Marine Corps flag, and the Navy flag are transferred from last year's Color Company to next year's Color Company. A drum cadence marks the occasion.

Financially, the Academy pays for the flowers, dress, etc. worn by the Color Girl. She is expected to join an elite club known as the Association of Color Girls of the Naval Academy.


1871 The first Color Girl, chosen by the color company commander became part of the Commissioning Week activities.
June Week Girl 1908
1950s: The tradition of the Color Girl wearing a white dress was introduced in the early 1950s. See below.
1954: Video footage of Color Girl ceremony
1970 First Class jumped into Reflection Pool
1971 Ever since 1971 a girl has been chosen as the Color Girl. In 1971 however, due to some circumstance lost in history, a high-ranking officer had to step in to fill the role.
1976 First black Color Girl, Stephanie Belinda McManus. She was chosen by the first Color Company black commander.
1979 "June Week" was renamed Commissioning Week because graduation had been moved from June to May. She was Magna Cum Laude from Fisk University.
1980: The first year that the graduating class included women raised the concern about the Color Girl. They wondered what would happen if a company commander were a girl, which seemed an inevitability at some point.  
1992: Spokesman for the Naval Academy, Mike John, explained that "times have changed and some people think we should re-evaluate the system." The Color Girl ceremony was held in Dahlgren on a concrete floor. Only the Color companies were present and no First Class ran to the Santee Basin to jump into the basin. It was raining, and that dampened everything. It was quite befitting as it would be the last "Color Girl" name would be changed to "Color Honorees."
2001 For the first time, the commander of the Color Company was a female. Problem arose. She couldn't pick a girl. That would not sit well with alumni. If she chose a male, he might be called the "color boy." That doesn't sound right. Solution arose. Since it was up to the Officer in Charge (OIC) to make the decision, he had the First Semester Company Commander, a male, chose the Second Semester Company Commander, a female, as the Color Girl. The Association of Color Girls has predicted the problem 20 years ago.
2013:The Color Company commander, a female, named her mother as Color Girl.





1979: Color Girl tradition may be drummed out