The Freshmen Banquet ended
in 1921 - abolished by the student
government due to the costs, the property damage, and the bad
publicity it gave the college.
"It was replaced by the Pig Roast, a slightly more sophisticated
form of freshman hazing that took the rioting away from cities
and out of public restaurants and inns, and concentrated it
in the rural fields and woods of Mansfield," wrote Evan Hill
in an unpublished manuscript written for the University's centennial
The rules of the Pig Roast called upon the freshmen (and they
were men only - women were prohibited from participating) had
to roast a pig weighing at least 50 pounds over a wood fire
for at least one hour in the open air. The class president and
50 percent of the class membership had to be present for the
event. A revised rule later said that if the president was not
present for the Pig Roast, 70 percent of the class had to attend.
Using automobiles during the allotted time was prohibited, as
was constraining any freshman for more than five hours. Stripping
prisoners of their clothing was banned, too. The use of weapons
was also forbidden.
On December 12, 1923, at noon - 12 hours before that year's roast
was to begin - students were in an assembly at the Main Building
when freshmen were ordered to Gulley Hall. They piled on to
flatbed trucks that had just pulled up and, before the sophomores
knew what was happening, the freshmen were off to hide at a
dance hall in Webster, Mass.
"But as the afternoon wore on, some of the bored freshmen ventured
out on the street where some cruising sophomores promptly spotted
them," said Hill. There was a near-riot, as reported by the
Webster Times the next day, but the freshmen regrouped and went
back into their hideout, which went undiscovered. They snuck
back to Mansfield and held their pig roast that night near the
Fenton River at Mount Hope. With autos banned, they trudged
back to campus and were immediately confronted by belligerent
sophomores, who "were appalled to learn that the pig had already
been roasted," wrote Hill.
Hazing of freshmen came to an end in 1925 when President Charles
Beach abolished all forms of the activity because of a serious
spinal injury to a freshman who had been paddled. That order
brought an end to an event known as the Pajama Parade. In that
short-lived activity, new men, wearing only their pajamas, had
to gather in front of their dormitories and march through campus
singing "How Green We Are," as they were paddled by sophomores.
In 1932, with the Pajama Parade long gone, as well as the Horse
and Cannon Rushes, the Pig Roast was replaced with a more light-hearted
event - although there was still some hazing involved - which would
last for 40 years as a campus tradition.
President Charles McCracken decided there should be a substitute
for the Pig Roast, and he asked Herbert France, the new director
of the music program, to come up with an idea.
"Mr. France, who seems like a very peppy kind of person, instituted
a new proceeding tonight," wrote Edwina Whitney in her diary
entry for September 23, 1932. Whitney was the college librarian
from 1900 to 1934.
"He led the band around to all the dormitories and collected
the students, who followed to benches which had been put up back
of Beach Hall. The freshmen boys wore their gayest pajamas and
the girls gym suits, etc. A very colorful sight when all were
assembled. Singing in chorus and some solo, with some humorous
talks, filled an hour or so. Then I went home but the others
to a big bonfire between the dorms," wrote Whitney.
This was the pattern for the next four decades of what was called
the Pied Piper Parade. For the first parade during Freshmen
Week in 1932, France dressed the president of the Student Organization
(the 1932 equivalent of today's Undergraduate Student Government)
in a costume like that of the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin.
The Piper led the 35-member band through the campus, first to
the home of President and Mrs. McCracken, who fell in behind
the band, and then on to the women's and men's residence halls.
The halls emptied, and even townspeople joined in the parade
that marched to Beach Hall.
The first parade drew 1,500 marchers, at a time when total enrollment
was only 706 students. At bleachers set up outside Beach Hall,
participants heard the Men's Glee Club and soloists sing, and
there were humorous skits and speeches. Over the years, the
event changed, to include an annual mock election for "The Mayor
of Storrs," and later a candle-light ceremony, with each freshman
lighting his or her candle from a neighbor or from the Pied
Piper's torch. In 1951, however, freshmen altered the script
by mounting the stage at the end of the ceremony, seizing the
Pied Piper and tossing him into Mirror Lake.
The last Pied Piper Parade was held in 1972, the last year that
Freshmen Week was held.
There was also another long-lived campus tradition that began
in the late 1940s. Known as the Campus Community Carnival, it
was intended to channel the pent-up energy of students into
a variety of fund-raising activities for charity. The third
and final part in this series on campus traditions will look
at the history of the Campus Community Carnival and its legacy
- known as Spring Weekend.
Mark J. Roy
Sources: Adapted from an unpublished article, The Pig Roast,
The Bag Rush, The Rope Pull, Cannoning, Banqueting, The Pied
Piper and Other Not So Grand, or Glorious, Adolescent Rituals, by Evan Hill, 1980. This article and other documents and materials
on the history of the University can be found in the
University Archives of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
Fall Traditions - Part One