News / USA

Iowa's Make-Believe University Has Fans Worldwide

University of Okoboji started as a lark

The Okoboji Lakes look inviting, all right.
The Okoboji Lakes look inviting, all right.

Multimedia

Audio
Ted Landphair

The Midwest farm state of Iowa is so proud of its string of blue-water lakes - the Okoboji Lakes - that it calls them “Iowa’s Great Lakes.” They’re ringed by resorts, marinas, and fishing cabins.  

And they’re very real. We point that out because not everything is real in those parts.

Most notably: the renowned, but quite mythical, University of Okoboji. All over the world, you bump into people wearing University of Okoboji caps and sweatshirts. In fact, a U of O pennant - with its impressive crest showing the Iowa Great Lakes - was once planted at the South Pole.

The impressive seal of the Great University of Okoboji. We kind of think they made up the 1878 date, however.
The impressive seal of the Great University of Okoboji. We kind of think they made up the 1878 date, however.

The legendary University of Okoboji football team, the Fightin’ Phantoms, plays three powerhouses - Notre Dame, the University of Nebraska and the winner of the University of Iowa versus Iowa State game - on a single day, September 31.  

That’s right, September only has 30 days. So far, the Phantoms have won every game.

The make-believe University of Okoboji was conceived 36 years ago by brothers Herman and Emil Richter, who own a clothing store in the nearby town of Milford, Iowa. As a lark, they printed U of O T-shirts, and people snapped them up. Today, you can also get University of Okoboji mugs and sweatshirts that are every bit as impressive as those from Stanford or Yale.

Nice T-shirts, too.
Nice T-shirts, too.

Former president George W. Bush was even presented with the university’s cap and gown. Not the usual mortar-board cap with a tassel and not a heavy robe. Okoboji’s cap and gown are a golf hat and a beach towel.  

The University of Okoboji may not have halls of ivy or much of a student body. Its enrollment is zero. But it’s a party school, holding an actual homecoming marathon each July, and winter games in January - with ski races, snowshoe hikes and something called a “freeze your fanny bike ride.”  

People who’ve been there during the deep freeze of an Iowa winter swear they saw Jack Frost and Santa Claus throwing snowballs by the lake.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid