March 14, 2008

Frosh Architects Parade for Annual Dragon Day Celebration

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Today from 1 – 3 p.m., the first-year architecture students will unleash a dragon.
Frankenstein had his monster, Henry Higgins his Pygmalion. And in the darkest depths of their Rand Hall lair, the first year architects this week created a vicious, bloodthirsty beast that knows no mercy.
But today — today that beast will meet his fiery end.
With a terrible strength far beyond the ken of mortal man, the dragon will burst out of Rand Hall at 1 p.m., travel east on University Ave., before continuing on to East Ave., Campus Road and the South Central walkway through Ho Plaza before entering the Arts Quad between Uris and Olin libraries.
To ensure the safety of the townspeople, some roads will be closed this afternoon. University Ave. will be closed between 12:15 p.m. and 1 p.m. between East Ave and the entrance to Rand Hall before the dragon bursts out of its architect-built cage. In addition, vehicular travel and bus routes may be changed to accommodate the revelers.
Dragon Day is a tradition dating back more than 100 years at Cornell. According to the University Archives, though the first date is not confirmed, the Dragon Day tradition was started by the infamous Willard Straight, class of 1901, who himself was an architecture student.
“From his early [days] as a freshman, he developed a reputation as a prankster, leader and developer of class unity,” according to the Archives.
In later years, a rivalry developed between architects and engineers. In past years, rival engineering students have made everything from a large Viking ship in the ’80s, a phoenix, a penguin and a large egg, the “love-child” of the phoenix and the dragon.
Dragon Day still takes place around St. Patrick’s Day, as the first one did back in the early 1900s. Although the dragon may be burned to a crisp by the end of the event, the tradition will continue on.