The HokieBird is the official mascot of Virginia Tech. HokieBird has been named as one of the top college football mascots in the United States. In reaction to myths about Virginia Tech cadets gobbling their meals, football coach Bill Dooley spearheaded a campaign for a new look and name for the mascot, which debuted at the 1981 football game against Wake Forest. The turkey-like figure was referred to as the Hokie mascot, the Hokie, and the Hokie bird, which resulted in changing the official designation of the Virginia Tech mascot to the Hokies. The costume worn by today's HokieBird made its first appearance in 1987, when Frank Beamer returned as coach. Although he reinstated the Gobbler to the football team's scoreboard, by then the Hokies nickname had already become the most prominent. The current HokieBird debuted at that season's home opener against Clemson, arriving in a white limousine. The HokieBird has won national mascot competitions. Now, when referring to Virginia Tech, the term Hokie generally refers to a Virginia Tech Student.
Various cannons have been used for years at Virginia Tech, but in the 1960s one industrious student formally proposed to the student governing body that a cannon be acquired to fire at football games. Students collected donations from the cadets to purchase supplies, and used a mold created in one of the engineering departments from Civil War style plans to make their cannon. They derived the name of the cannon, Skipper, from President John Kennedy, who had just been assassinated, had been the skipper of a PT boat, and they wanted to do something to honor him. On its first firing at the next game against VMI, the eager cadets tripled the charge, which blew the hats off half the VMI keydets and shook the glass in the press box windows of Roanoke's Victory Stadium. They never heard the VMI chant again. Today, Skipper is fired outside Lane Stadium when the football team enters the field and when it scores.