Exclusive: UF says goodbye to longtime “Mr. Orange and Blue”

Author: Adam Wright
Published: Updated:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – There’s nothing quite like game day in the The Swamp. Close to 90,000 screaming fans cheer on the Gators, and for the past 31 years, Fort Myers’ very own Richard Johnston has been energizing the home crowd before kickoff by leading them in a round of cheers.

Since 1984, “Mr. Orange & Blue” as he’s known, has never missed a Gator home game.

Dawning his signature orange and blue shoes, Johnston got ready to take the field for his final SEC home game Saturday.

“(It feels) strange, really strange. I mean you’ve come and done something forever and ever, so yeah it’s a little strange but it’s nice to be handing it off to a guy that’s got the same level of electricity that I think I have,” Johnston told WINK News before running onto the field to pump up the crowd.

Johnston decided this would be his last year, and chose UF student Duke Ramadan, an aspiring hip-hop artist to replace him.

“I’m more excited than anything because RJ’s a great guy and he’s been doing it for so long. And for him to choose me… it’s really gotten me so much more pumped and more excited,” Ramadan told WINK News.

Before the Gators kicked off to the visiting University of South Carolina Gamecocks, Johnston and Ramadan stormed the field together and led the crowd in a cheer of “Orange! Blue!”

“I’m speechless,” said Ramadan afterward.

“He did really great,” sad Johnston.

During the first timeout of the first quarter, the Gators took a moment to honor the man who has meant so much to them for so long. He was presented a pair of orange and blue shoes in a glass case, as tens of thousands applauded.

“I didn’t know what I was going to get and it was a complete surprise when I looked at them, and I thought ‘Oh God, yeah that’s me, that’s my shoes.’ It was great,” said Johnston.

“This was a very emotional day for me, it was a tough day… it’s a big change after 31 years, it’s going to be different, so thinking about that was very emotional.”

Johnston says he will still try to go to as many home games as he can. He will be allowed to watch from the field level, and hopes to one day do the cheers again as a special guest.

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