Friday, March 18, 2011

dragon day

Today is Richmond is a beautiful spring day but a little part of me misses Ithaca. That's because today is Dragon Day.

Every school has it's own strange traditions and holidays that started long ago. At Cornell, that's Dragon Day, a long running event that started to coincide with St. Patrick's but is now the Friday before Spring Break. Students that schedule early departures miss out, as I did freshman year. This isn't a holiday that is talked about for months, like Slope Day, instead it sneaks up on most people until the weeks prior when behind the architecture building strange construction starts to happen.

The architecture students spend days building a large dragon, typically pulling an all-nighter the night before to finish. (All-nighters being the lifeblood of architecture.) They then dress in costumes, often with elaborate but non-dragon related themes, perhaps have a beverage or two and parade the dragon around campus. When passing the Engineering Quad, the dragon should be confronted with the engineering student's challenger, typically a phoenix. Sometimes this happens, sometimes not. This year, the phoenix was particularly impressive. Well done, engineers.

[From Cornell's Flickr stream]

The dragon is then supposed to be taken to the Arts Quad to be burned, but my senior year due to new environmental air regulations, burning the dragon was banned. The architecture students compensated by building a last minute fire-friendly all natural wood/straw egg to burn. It appears the burning may have been dropped from the day's event. (Possibly for the best, there were many costumed architecture students running rather close to the fire in past years.)

Though always only an observer of the day's events, I have fond memories of stopping by the coffee shop where I worked in the bottom of the architecture building on Dragon Day to serve coffee to the last few dragon-makers and make illicit beverages concealed in innocuous cups for my friends and me to enjoy while watching the parade.

Cornell has a website up for today and Wikipedia, of course, has more information on the event as well as a great photo gallery of past dragons.

1 comment:

blue roses said...

amazing post! long live dragon day!

miss you.... and beverages, caffeine and illicit, at the dragon.