Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

April 3, 2016

Cornell Architecture Students Celebrate 115th Annual Dragon Day

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Hundreds of spectators gathered at Rand Hall on March 25 to watch the Dragon Day parade — an annual event featuring an immense dragon built by first-year students in the College of Art, Architecture and Planning.

Freshman architecture students work together every year to construct the dragon, which is then marched by their class from Rand Hall up East Avenue, onto Ho Plaza and finally onto the Arts Quad — where it faces off with a phoenix made by students in the College of Engineering, according to Aleksandr Dmitrashchuk ’20.

Several parade attendees said this year’s dragon — a massive, metallic teal structure with a moving head controlled by students sitting inside its body — was one of the best in recent memory.

“I love the fact that it’s mechanical, and it’s very pretty, so I think this is one of the best dragons I’ve seen,” said Gretchen Ritter, Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Upper-year architecture students, while not directly involved in the construction process, also expressed pride in the freshmen’s accomplishments.

“I got chills when I saw the dragon, and we’re all just very proud of the freshmen,” said Isa Hübsch ’19. “It’s a really great bonding experience.”

Building the dragon helps create a community for each class of architecture students, according to second-year architect Ainslie Cullen ’19.

“It’s so great as a class to really come together and build one project and work on one thing as a whole,” Cullen said.

The Dragon Day parade also included band members, drums and a crowd of upper-year architecture students dressed up in costumes that ranged from Donald Trump riding a dragon to bottles of Naked juice.

While the dragon’s actual construction only began March 21, the freshmen have been preparing for four weeks, according to Dmitrashchuk.

“At first we spent about six to 12 hours per day, but for the last one and a half days, we’ve been working nonstop,” Dmitrashchuk said. “We do it in four groups: head, neck, tail, body, and by the end, it’s pretty much everyone working together on everything.”

Paige Wagar ’18, a friend of one of the first years, added that students put a huge amount of work into the project.

“It’s really cool, after hearing about my best friend stay up for hours and hours on end to build [the dragon], to watch her push it,” Wagar said.

Ritter added that the Dragon Day parade is a unique experience that she believes all students should experience.

“I used to love Dragon Day as a student, and now I love it as a faculty member here,” she said. “I always tell students, ‘You have to go out and see it.’”