Going into Mountain Day weekend as a Freshman I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Everyone who had previously experienced all of the Mountain Day activities said it was a blast and that freshmen couldn't miss it. However, no one was able to put into words just why it was so vital to attend. The anticipation for Mountain Day weekend began the week before, with The Art Society putting up gorgeous decorations all around campus. The theme for this year’s Mountain Day was Medieval, so there were cardboard knights and tapestries for each hall everywhere. Krannert Lobby was decked out with medieval décor, with fake fire lights, thrones, and streamers everywhere. Class schedules were rearranged the Friday of the Mountain Day Olympics so that everyone was let out by 2:00 PM, the beginning of the Olympic Marches.
My last class for the day ended at 12 PM. After grabbing lunch, I went back to my dorm and began prepping for the Mountain Day Olympics. Each hall has a theme by which they dress up and make signs. My hall’s theme was “Explorers” so everyone dressed up in khakis, bandannas and binoculars, in an effort to look as explorer-like as possible. We met as a hall at 1:50 outside in front of the dorm and met up with the other halls that make up the Ford complex to march down to main campus, where we would cheer for our hall’s float in the Mountain Day Parade and then later compete in the Mountain Day Olympics.
Me and my hall mates dressed up as explorers!
When we got down to main campus we lined up along the main road and began cheering and chanting for the parade to begin. We saw some of the other halls and their themes, which were all very neat. There were students dressed up as zombies, aliens, warriors, deer, spring-breakers, Americans, explorers and 90's girls. Even Faculty and Staff dressed up! Their theme was The Hunger Games. The parade was really neat to see. All of the dorms had a float and some of them were really cool. My personal favorite was Mountain Campus’ float. Their theme was Spring Break and their float actually had 500 pounds of sand and water in the flatbed of a pickup truck, with beach chairs, inflatable palm trees, and squirt guns—phenomenal.
After the parade, the Olympics began. The event took place on Evans lawn with everyone gathered in a giant circle. After the lighting of the Olympic torch and the cow kissing-contest, the games began. I competed with some other girls in my hall in Tug-of-war. We won our first match and lost our second. It was really fun to compete and bond with my fellow hall mates and to knock something off of my Berry Bucket list!
Competing in the Olympics!
After the Olympics I rushed back to my dorm with my roommate to shower and get ready for the Mountain Day Talent Show, in which she and I were competing. At six o’clock we reported for duty at Ford Auditorium, practicing and doing sound checks for the two shows—one at 8 PM and the other at 10. Our adrenaline and excitement were pumping, as both of the shows had sold out. We were more excited than nervous, however, as we didn’t enter the talent show with the intent of winning. We really just wanted to showcase our talents and have fun! The other acts were all really friendly and there was a sense of camaraderie that increased throughout the night as we all hung out, singing and dancing backstage. Everyone was really friendly, super-talented, and amazingly supportive of one another. There was no negativity or hostility and things ran very smoothly the entire night. We didn't place, but it was a fantastic experience and something I am very proud of taking part in.
The next day was Mountain Day. At 1 PM, all of the freshmen girls in my hall, adorned in the traditionally pink outfits, crammed into a couple of cars and made our way up to Mountain campus. When we arrived there were thousands of people spread out all across the mountain. We first visited all of the tents set up next to the field where we’d have the Grand March. There were some really neat tents, for example the Berry student enterprises had a few tents selling various products like woven bags and Adirondack chairs. The local shop Jandy’s even had a truck for people to buy some of their wonderful frozen yogurt!
Me and my hall mates dressed in our Mountain Day attire!
We then marched down the mountain, first one by one, then two by two, four by four, and so on until we had lines of 16 students each. The first time down the mountain each student puts pennies into a basket at the bottom of the hill we march on—one for each year they’ve been alive as a way of giving back to the school. In Martha Berry’s days, the pennies put into the basket during the Mountain Day March would raise money enough for a scholarship to the school for one student. Albeit strange at first, it was quite enjoyable and something that truly makes Berry unique. The entire Mountain Day March emphasizes the core principles of Berry—the head, heart, and hands and importance of giving and service.
That evening after the march was Marthapalooza. Marthapalooza is a giant carnival held at Berry as the cumulative celebration of Mountain Day weekend and Martha Berry’s birthday. There are carnival rides, games, free snacks, and free drinks. The weather was crisp and chilly—a perfect fall night for running around with your friends and enjoying all that college has to offer. My personal favorite part of Marthapalooza was sitting around the huge bonfire with a couple of my hall mates, drinking warm apple cider, staring at the stars, and sharing life experiences. It was peaceful, beautiful, and loads of fun. Marthapalooza was the perfect way to end the weekend. It instilled within me an overwhelming sense of calm and happiness and solidified once again, that I had chosen the right place to go to school. It is something I look forward to partaking in for many years to come and something that no one who attends Berry should ever miss.