March 18, 2004

Prepping the Dragon

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Deep into the night and into this morning, scores of freshman architecture students put the final touches on to this year’s dragon. This afternoon, after six weeks of intensive planning, fundraising, designing and a week of all-night building sessions, the dragon will parade across campus before being burned on the Arts Quad.

Dragon Day, a Cornell tradition with roots going back over a century, has again returned to campus. Started by Willard Straight 1901 as a way of celebrating his college, the tradition originally started out as painting the campus green. Over the years, the tradition has morphed into the large-scale production it is today, part engineering exercise, part team building project, part creative endeavor, and more than a little bit of theater.

William Erhard III ’07, president of this year’s Dragon Days Affairs, said that about fifty architecture students have been working nights since last Friday bringing the dragon from dream to reality. “We have a lot to do, but I think that half the class will stay until tomorrow to finish it up,” Erhard said yesterday, amidst crews frantically painting and placing cardboard dragon scales on a growing frame.

Erhard said that an open competition amongst the architecture students was held to choose the best dragon design, and that since then a lot of non-construction work has been involved in assuring a successful event. “It’s not just all construction,” he said. “A lot of paperwork, a lot of people to contact, a lot more is involved.

That includes raising funds for the event, which architecture students have done by selling t-shirts throughout the preceding week.

This year, Erhard said that the dragon would begin its journey from the architecture school to the Engineering Quad at one in the afternoon, and would end up as usual on the Arts Quad. Almost up until that deadline, dragonites will fill the AAP’s buildings. “At night, there are ridiculous amounts of people here,” said Erhardt. “I’m not going to be sleeping ’til Friday.”

When asked about the fact that the Phoenix Society, traditionally a group of engineering freshmen who design a counter to the dragon, is reportedly on leave, Erhard smiled. “We’re taking construction of the Phoenix into our own hands,” he said. He declined further elaboration.

When asked for comment on the Phoenix Society’s apparent hiatus, several engineering freshmen refused comment or cited “too much work” as their reasons for leaving the dragon’s call unanswered.

Archived article by Michael Morisy