On April 1, College of Architecture, Art and Planning students in elaborate outfits grabbed hold of the two-headed dragon they had designed and embarked on the Dragon Day parade, a Cornell tradition returned to campus after a two year pandemic-induced hiatus. Despite rainy weather, participants and observers alike were excited to see the tradition return.
Dragon Day began when Willard Straight ’01 created a College of Architecture Day on Saint Patrick’s Day. Because Irish legend has it that Saint Patrick drove the serpents out of Ireland, the event’s main symbol was a serpent. Sometime in the 1950s, this celebration was renamed and became what Cornellians currently know as Dragon Day: a chance for first-year AAP students to build a massive dragon and parade it around campus on the friday before Spring Break.
The event was particularly special for second-year AAP students, who normally would have had their own Dragon Day last year but were invited to participate in this year’s after the 2021 event was canceled.
Second-year AAP student Yan Jiang ’25 took part in the Dragon Day parade this year. She said she had been looking forward to being a part of Dragon Day since her first year at Cornell.
“It’s a carnival that allows me and my peers to get crazy and work together to choreograph [constructing the dragon but also organizing events] the dragon, which fostered a great atmosphere of excitement,” Jiang said. “I felt empowered to continue the tradition and celebration dating back to the 1900s.”
Gyulee Jung ’26 agreed with the excitement among AAP students at this year’s event.
“It was more than what I expected it to be. Because the second years did not have a chance to build their dragon last year because of the pandemic, we had a two-headed dragon for this year,” Jung said. “I think it was twice as exciting!”
But Dragon Day also involves more than just the dragon. Architecture students designed unique Dragon Day 2022 shirts, which were sold around campus in the weeks leading up to the event, and the day of the parade also featured Dragon Day pranks.
One such prank, called The Green Streak, involved AAP students dousing themselves in green paints and running into randomly chosen classes chanting “Dragon, Dragon, Dragon! Oi, Oi, Oi!” The chant was sometimes joined by the surprised students in classes visited by The Green Streak.
Jiang said she greatly enjoyed participating in The Green Streak this year.
“It feels funny but awesome to be a menace running into random classes to yell at 9 a.m. and see confused or scornful faces from students in those classes,” Jiang said.
Noon Son ’25 did not participate in the Dragon Day events, but witnessed much of the festivities, including having her morning lecture interrupted by Green Streak participants.
“They ran into one of my morning classes,” Son said. “I was not aware of this tradition, but their eagerness was definitely a wake-up call for me that morning.”
After her classes ended for the day, Son watched the Dragon Day parade and said she found the talent of her peers displayed in the parade to be amazing.
“I have long heard about the enormous dragon they built for this parade. It was very magnificent to see, along with the performances and marching band,” Son said.