The college announced the winner of the new traditions contest this week. The winning entry, submitted by sophomores Emily Barnard, Ben Snow, Kate Zecca and Sophia Peluso, will be a “Panther Day” parade from downtown Middlebury to the Kirk Alumni Center.
The pep band and the panther mascot will lead the parade, which will culminate in food, music and sports games. The inaugural Panther Day will be Saturday, Oct. 20, during Homecoming weekend.
“The contest selection committee ultimately agreed on Panther Day because it celebrates our history and diversity, while allowing student groups to express their creativity through the floats, banners or dress in the parade,” said President Laurie L. Patton.
“We also hope Panther Day will revitalize and enrich homecoming as a campus-wide fall event,” Patton said.
Nocturne, the nighttime arts festival held last Saturday, was entered in the traditions competition but did not win. The event allowed students to display and perform many types of art not necessarily in relation to students’ academics. The event was both well attended and well-received.
Patton said that many of the non-winning proposals could be incorporated into Panther Day.
Hannah Morrissey ’18 and art history professor Glenn Andres served as the co-chairs of the committee of students and faculty that selected the winning tradition.
The Panther Day parade recalls similar events in the college’s history. The academic processions for convocation and commencement descend from 19th-century processions from campus to the Congregational Church in town, where college ceremonies were held before the construction of Mead Chapel in 1915.
In the early 1900s, Middlebury students joined children in town for a Maypole dance on May Day. That era, known for the Beaux Arts movement, became the basis for a winter masquerade ball hosted by architecture students in 2006. Guests at the Beaux Arts ball donned masks and tuxedos to celebrate the end of exams. The grand event ultimately did not become a tradition.