Friday, May 8, 2015

Archives Display: May Festivities

This month's display features items from St. Kate's Archives relating to May Fête and Dew Drop Bop. Throughout St. Kate’s history, students have marked the passage of the academic year and the arrival of spring with a festival held in May.

Originally called Whoopee Day, the tradition was begun in 1938.  From 1939-1986, students celebrated it as May Fête, an annual event similar to May Day. An article in the April 24, 1947 Wheel described it this way:
For freshmen who have heard much talk and seen little action, May Fete is the school's contribution to Living A Life of Confusion and most of the planning is done behind locked doors . . . witness the soph skit and senior Varsity Show.
The May Fête revelry included a May pole dance (with the lamp post located inside the campus gate on Randolph Avenue serving as the May pole). Students gathered along the streets of campus to watch a parade in which Freshmen dressed in thematic costumes (often relating to their studies or extracurricular interests), drove cars that were decorated with balloons, flowers and other adornments. In the afternoon, Katies enjoyed the chance to take canoe rides on Dew Drop Pond. May Fête activities concluded with a play performed in honor of the senior class.

Students perform a May Pole dance.
In addition to providing fun, one of the purposes was to raise funds for a major project on the campus.  The first project was converting a former greenhouse into an addition to the student tea room in Whitby.  The second was to raise enough money to erect a shrine to Our Lady of Peace. It took 5 years, but the Shrine was dedicated in 1943.  The statue still stands on campus, now located on the south side of the CDC.

Since 1987, the annual May celebration has been known as the Dew Drop Bop. Whereas May Fête involved pageantry and performances such as a parade and a play, the Dew Drop Bop is similar to a modern day carnival held on the Quad.  The event features rides, games, crafts, live music, and food. Dew Drop Bop is an opportunity for students to socialize and celebrate the end of another academic year. True to its name, the Dew Drop Bop culminates with a dance held in the evening.

This display will be on view during the month of May on the main level of the St. Paul Library, in the case in front of the video of the carrels. Stop by to learn more!

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