The most scenic feature on the UCF campus – the Reflecting Pond – will be back in picture-perfect shape on May 1, just in time for graduation photo shoots.

The Reflecting Pond was drained in October after Spirit Splash and has been undergoing an extensive renovation ever since. Work has progressed rapidly over the past several months as crews accelerated the project with the goal of finishing before Spring commencement ceremonies begin on May 3. It’s become a tradition for graduates to have their photos taken in front of — and sometimes in — the iconic Reflecting Pond.

The pond has been hidden by a construction fence for several months, surrounded by heavy equipment and workers.

Workers demolished and removed the entire concrete base of the Reflecting Pond, along with the fountain structure, lighting and more, before replacing plumbing and filtration, upgrading lighting to color-changing LEDs, adding more efficient fountain pumps and pouring a new concrete floor.

The work was necessary because the pond’s aging underground pipes sprung several leaks last year, and heavy rains during Hurricane Irma caused runoff that damaged its electrical controls. The renovation corrected those problems and modernized the Reflecting Pond’s technology and features.

The engineering firm for the project was Sims Wilkerson Cartier Engineering, Inc., and the builder was Canaveral Construction. The renovation was overseen by UCF Facilities Planning & Construction and Utilities & Energy Services.

Over nearly a half-century, the iconic Reflecting Pond has been treasured by generations of Knights. It’s been the backdrop for countless graduation photos, the centerpiece of Spirit Splash, and even hosted a U.S. president delivering a commencement address.

Repairs have been made in the past, including a renovation in 2000 that replaced the pond’s single small spout with three fountains.

There was once a natural pond where the Reflecting Pond now sits. It was often dried up, but after a rain it would turn into a muddy pit several feet deep. UCF’s first president, Charles Millican, solved the problem by turning the eyesore into the campus’ prettiest feature.

Construction of the Reflecting Pond was completed in 1970, around the same time Millican Hall opened. It measures 182 by 20 feet at its widest points, and holds 228,000 gallons.

It has had auspicious moments over the years. In the university’s early days, the water was drained and replaced with chairs for graduation ceremonies, and that’s where students sat when President Richard Nixon delivered a commencement address in 1973.

Spirit Splash started unofficially in 1995, when the president of the Student Government Association was pushed into the Reflecting Pond and cabinet members followed. The homecoming event was named “Best Campus Tradition” by the National Association for Campus Activities in 2011 and this year ESPN’s Will Reeve took a nationally televised dip with our students.