Each summer, the University's President and first lady host the first watermelon cutting of the summer on the Pedestrium near the banks of the campus lakes. The President is given the honor of slicing the first melon of the summer, and enlists the help others to serve the ice-cold melon to the waiting crowd
The tradition of watermelon cuttings began in 1948 when the late President Zach Henderson wanted to provide a cool treat to the students, faculty and staff who were on campus during the warm summer months. Curtis Frink, who has sliced the locally-grown watermelons by the side of every president since the tradition started, makes sure there is more than enough watermelon to go around. Frink will usually ice down the melons, numbering more than 200 for each cutting, a week in advance. The watermelon cuttings, held twice a week during the month of July in the late mornings, are complete with napkins, forks and shakers of salt (if you have not tried it, you're missing out).
An alumnus that attended the first event remembered, "The President at the time was a stately and bigger-than-life icon. I remember it was very hot, but here he comes in a dark suit and white starched shirt. He walked up to the truck, took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and cut an entire truck load of watermelons for us. It was amazing."
In 1967, Atlanta Constitution journalist Bob Harrell, wrote, "The president's performance on a Georgia melon has been compared to that of a surgeon doing brain surgery." Zach Henderson modestly explained, "It's all in the wrist."