An 85-foot-long and 20-foot-high skeletal dragon will roam Cornell’s campus Friday to celebrate the 116th Dragon Day — its music and openness symbolizing this year’s theme of “Louder Together.”
Building the dragon typically employs an architectural concept, but this year, as in past years, the presentation of the dragon is serving as a platform for Cornellians to comment on political turmoil, according to Dragon Day Co-President Sahir Choudhary ’21.
Although they proposed the theme of “we stand with the nasty dragon,” architecture students ultimately settled on “Louder Together,” because they did not want to project a particular political stance. Rather, the aim of the Cornell tradition is to offer space for all voices.
“We are speaking in regards to Islamophobia, the rise of the alternative right, the rise of extremism, the European Union, Brexit, Trump,” Choudhary said. “We wanted to respond to this idea of being alienated from society itself and that’s why the theme we chose was louder together, the idea of coming together in unison, of standing in solidarity against all forms of hate.”
The annual, freshmen-run event was organized in a month by over 60 students from the College of Architecture, Art and Planning who worked through seven different committees — ranging from advertising and funding to construction of the dragon. The Dragon Day archies come from 23 different countries and speak 17 languages.
“Considering the class itself, we are very international,” Choudhary said. “And most of us were very aghast at what was happening. We didn’t want this event to be completely disconnected from reality itself.”
They completed the project within a month, getting advice from the section leaders of past years and the shop staff on how to weld materials together.
“Since the very beginning, Dragon Day has always been organized by the students, and it’s done through passing on this knowledge from year to year within the student body,” said Co-President Davis Jian Kun Zhu ’21.
The “prank team,” one of the Dragon Day committees, held a nerd walk on Monday and a green streak on Wednesday — two traditional dragon day “pranks” that aimed to raise excitement and awareness of the event.
Different groups across campus have joined with the architecture students to advertise Friday’s festivities, including Cornell Republicans and Cornell Democrats.
The marching band and several other Cornell performance groups will march with the students in the parade itself.
“We want to make association with other parts of the campus and share this sense that we are all together,” Zhu said.
In the past, dragon day members usually wore costumes on Dragon Day. In spirit of this year’s theme, however, some students may decline to dress up as a protest to construction in AAP.
This potential protest is in response to the University’s anticipated construction of the Ho Fine Arts Library which is set to be completed by 2017. Some archies and staff members believe it will interfere with the architecture facilities in Rand Hall, according to Zhu.
But Choudhary added that students are encouraged to embrace whatever they are passionate about — political or not — at the event, which has a goal is of providing a platform for “open, free, complete dialogue,” Choudhary said.
Per tradition, the dragon will start by Milstein Hall, head to the engineering quad, cut down Ho Plaza and finally make its way to the Arts Quad. While the songs are still being chosen by the performers, Choudhary hopes that one will be “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles.
As the event draws closer, archies’ anticipation for the reveal of their month-long project grows higher.
“It’s been exhilarating, and as the days get closer to the event, I’m only getting more excited,” said Sam Price ’21.