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Carolina blue: The facts

Occasionally referred to as 'Tar Heel Blue', Carolina blue is a shade of pale blue which has come to be strongly associated with the US state of North Carolina. The name derives from the popular usage of the term 'Carolina' to the University of North Carolina which has adopted the shade as one of its official school colours.

University colours

The use of the colour at UNC is believed to date from 1795, when students adopted the colours of light blue and white to show their membership of either the Dialectic or Philanthropic Literary Societies.
All students were expected to be members of the 'Di' or the 'Phi', with the former's colour being light blue and the latter's white.
Student events
At student ceremonial and social events, the Chief Marshal or Chief Ball Manager represented the whole student body and so wore both colours, while the student officials, managers, and marshals wore the colours of their society.
Blue or white ribbons would also be attached to the diplomas of graduates. By the time UNC was participating in athletics and other sporting events in 1888, the colours had been adopted to show membership to the university as a whole, not just one society. Marketing
The University Licensing Office has actually defined the colour as Pantone 27 for branding and marketing purposes.

Tar Heels

Natives of North Carolina
The term 'Tar heels' (or sometimes 'tarheels') is sometimes used to refer to natives of North Carolina.
Although unclear in its origins, some have suggested that the word may have been coined because of the prevalence of pine woods in the state, being a reference to the amount of tar, pitch and turpentine created in the state.
This reference may date back to the time of the Revolutionary War and British soldiers remarking that wading in North Carolina's rivers would leave one with tar on one's heels. Others favour a more bellicose explanation, believing that the name is reference to the tenacity of Confederate soldiers from the region during the American Civil War and how they 'stuck like tar' to their positions.
Final word
The University of North Carolina basketball team and other sports teams are nicknamed the UNC Tarheels.
Tarheel basketball stars have included Donald Williams, George Lynch and Michael Jordan. A popular car bumper sticker often seen in the state reads: "God must be a a Tar Heel because he made the sky Carolina Blue!"

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