How this year’s event compares to Spree Day’s past
Although many schools have a spring celebration very similar to our own Spree Day, it’s nice to think of it as something unique to Clark. That being said, it’s also interesting to think about what Spree Day is… and what it was originally intended to be.
Thanks to the generous tenants that lived in our apartment before we moved in, Clark University 1887-1987 A Narrative History is now in our possession, allowing us to get a good idea of what Spree Day was when it started.
“Another popular annual custom, lasting into the present, was ‘Spree Day.’ Originally held in connection with St. Patrick’s Day in 1903, Spree Day evolved into a more generalized spring event. Given a forecast of promising weather warm enough for outdoor activity, the students were permitted to call, without prior notice, a day free of classes during which games, picnics, dances and other events filled the period from eight a.m. to late evening.”
If you didn’t catch the “promising weather” and “the students were permitted to call…” just reread that statement again.
If this passage was applied to the present day, Spree Day probably would have been on Monday. It was absolutely beautiful. Tuesday was scheduled as a 70% chance of rain the night before, and I didn’t see a drop until the evening. The administration had two great opportunities to avoid the Kneller.
On a side note, I think Spree Day in the Kneller should be avoided at all costs. It’s so much more accepted to stop and watch people Spree’ing when it’s outside. If you’re standing next to the mechanical bull in the Kneller, you come off a bit creepy. Location, location, location.
The issue I’m getting at remains that Spree Day has become too complicated. Do we really need the inflatable alien laser tag, scheduled bands, and copious amounts of money spent to have a good time? Isn’t it enough to have classes canceled on a beautiful day? At what point did people decide that Spree Day needed to be more than that?
From what I observed this year, not very many people attended those costly additions. The line for kettle corn was long, but the members of the band playing inside the Kneller were barely outnumbered by the crowd… or group of half a dozen people.
It seems to me that Clarkies would be happier knowing good weather was a factor and forfeiting the bounce castle. We could have a scavenger hunt or a traditional tug of war between the grades. There could be interactive art displays and Clark bands could perform if they wanted to. Let’s organize a group excursion to Newton Hill.
In another part of Koelsch’s book of Clark chronicles, in a section concerning women being included in Clark activities, it says “On Spree Day 1943 the women challenged the faculty to a softball game, but were so ignominiously defeated in the first two innings that they called the game.” We’ll just assume that the ladies had Spree’ed a bit too much prior to the game.
These are the simple things I’d like to see at Spree Day. That would eliminate the sadness of knowing when it is. I can’t explain how strange it was seeing ads for Spree Day in the UC, or knowing that absolutely everyone already knew. It was like finding out Santa doesn’t exist all over again. (Sorry if I just ruined anyone’s childhood.)
Aside from the surprise being lost and the weather keeping everyone on edge, Spree Day was enjoyable this year. It’s always nice to see everyone able to devote a day to leisure. The same person who was bemoaning their 20-page paper due at the end of the semester was taking it easy at a barbeque. Didn’t finish your reading for class? Well it’s not going to get done on the second Tuesday in April.
As wonderful as all the random recreation is, it was strange and slightly uncomfortable to see someone getting a brief tour of Clark as we walked up Downing Street. Although Admissions wisely closes for the day, it looked like one poor potential student and parent had shown up expecting a usual Tuesday. I just hope she and Noam Chomsky both assumed that their day on campus was business as usual.
Something that made this year especially nice was the events going on outside campus. Local pizza shop, Flats sold breakfast burritos and fried dough as students took advantage of their BYOB policy. Nothing says “Happy Spree Day” like mimosas and breakfast burritos… unless it’s Jell-o shots and delicious diner food at Annie’s. There were also some people selling homemade alcoholic frozen yogurt on Florence Street.
Next year, I call for a returning to our roots – a simpler, more spur of the moment Spree Day. We don’t need to spend outrageous amounts of money or bounce in plastic cages to be happy, right?