The University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)
Chapter House

12108 Darwin Drive
Orlando, FL 32826
Florida Iota chapter house

Florida Iota In the Beginning

By Chris Lombardo #2 (Taken from the Spring 2002 Azure & Argent Florida Iota Newsletter)

I had a great group of friends that I enjoyed very much. We tried over a period of years to pledge with different fraternities, but without success. TKE would take two of us, but not all. ATO wanted one of us, but not the rest. Sigma Chi we just weren’t interested in. And so we resigned ourselves to be GDI’s (god damn independents) until one night we all went to the movies. We went to see this “new” movie that was supposed to be a riot, it had John Belushi in it and that was good enough for us.

The movie was Animal House and as we watched it dawned on us that we could just create a fraternity. When the song Shout came on during the Toga party, we all looked at each other and the idea of the chapter was born right then and there.

We did some research and concluded that the best fraternity in the country was not represented on our campus, so we contacted Phi Delta Theta and soon thereafter we were a colony.

A few of the founders with the Founders Paddle

Almost all of us were Poli Sci majors that were leaning toward law school. In fact Butch Blanchard and I went to FSU and were roommates during law school. We had a great time and enjoyed throwing crazy parties and pushing the outer limits of the IFC rules. We also did something that will never be repeated, we set the highest combined GPA in the history of the university: 3.5. Sure we were geeks, but now we were Greeks.

We had outrageous parties. Easter weekend we sponsored the Bloody Bunny dance. We had the Great Armadillo Hunt & Cookout. We throw the J.D. to J.D. poker party (Jack Daniels to Juris Doctorate) (We actually contacted Jack Daniels and convinced them to sponsor the party. To this day I still hear from them). The New Year’s Eve beach party in one of the brother’s apartments was a big hit. (We had covered his apartment in plastic and then filled it with sand and palm trees) And my personal favorite, The Phi Delt Downhill Snow Fest. Robert Husband’s family owned an ice company in those days and we brought in semi-truck loads of snow, covered a hill and sponsored downhill skiing and sled races.

We also enjoyed building wild parade floats for Homecoming. One year, for a Caribbean themed homecoming, we took the fraternity car (a 1966 Chevrolet Impala dubbed the Land Yacht) and turned it into a giant shark out of chicken wire and tissue paper. What made it noteworthy was when it caught on fire in the middle of the parade! But we just kept on going.
The Land Yacht

Those were great years and there are many people who were in the Colony that left before we became a chapter. Rick Picton was the first president and left for OCS with the Marines a year before we made it. He could not come back for the induction which is why his bond is in the 40’s when it should be one of the first ten. I was the first pledgemaster and the second president. Jim Miles, Kirk Jenne and Gabe Gaberial are just a few who probably were never recognized.

Founding brothers after initiation

We enjoyed ourselves and worked hard to create traditions and foundations that would last. We used to joke that someday, a bunch of guys we don’t know, will have to memorize our names as the founding fathers...the usual comment that followed that statement was, “Yeah, sure.”