Traditional, new festivities celebrate May Day

Traditional, new festivities celebrate May Day

April 29, 2016

May Day celebrations will be held Saturday at Callaway Auditorium, beginning with the annual Step Sing Competition at 2 p.m. That will be followed by a concert by Kazual, an acapella vocal group from Atlanta.

Kazual is a family band of three brothers and a cousin who mix the sounds of R&B, hip hop and pop to create what they call the “Kazual experience,” according to the group’s website. Over the past year, they have performed at more than 150 colleges, universities, theaters, clubs, performance arts centers, fairs and festivals.

Following the concert, student organization and Step Sing awards will be presented, followed by the announcement of the new Student Government Association executive council.
Katie Mosley, Director of Student Involvement and Service, said the festivities will conclude with a May Day tailgate party in the auditorium’s parking lot, weather permitting.

“We will have free pizza, wings and drinks,” she said. “There also will be cornhole games and a DJ. This promises to be a fun day for all with entertainment options for the whole family.”

Because May 1 falls on Sunday this year, the annual May Day festivities will be celebrated Saturday.

From dances around a maypole to Step Sing competitions, the first weekend of May has been marked with celebrations at LaGrange College for many decades.

Pat Barrett, Suber Archives Associate at Lewis Library, said the first official mention of May Day on the Hill appears in the 1918 “Quadrangle.”

“There is a wonderful photo of students dancing around the traditional maypole,” she said. “The next time it is featured is in the May issue of the 1927 Scroll, the student newspaper before the Hilltop News.”

She said the article describes the celebration as “long anticipated and, as the first of its kind for many years, is considered one of the most important events of the year yet observed on the campus.”

Barrett said the actual inauguration date of Step Sing into the festivities is unknown. The event originated with student groups performing on the steps of the old Dobbs Auditorium, which was destroyed by fire in 1970.

“We do know that Step Sing is today’s most visible celebration of May Day,” she said. “The competition for bragging rights is intense.”

Earlier May Day traditions included students in elaborate costumes participating in plays and maypole dances and the coronation of the queen (and later king).
“We have some wonderful items in the archives from those early events,” she said. “We have a scrapbook from an alumna that includes sketches of the May Day costume she made, including a swatch of the fabric.”

Barrett has created a May Day exhibit on the main floor of Frank and Laura Lewis Library and said she hopes it might spur others to share their memories and memorabilia. She can be reached at pbarrett@lagrange.edu.


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