Parade Night

Parade Night is the first of the traditions and, sadly, one of which I have no pictures. There are some pictures of old Parade Nights out there, but this is probably the most-changed tradition and the old Parade Nights of the 30s, 40s, and 50s bear little resemblance to today's ceremony.

The deal with Parade Night is as follows: on the first night of classes, the frosh are gathered in the Dance Studio above Pembroke Archway, the main entrance to the college. Outside the studio, along the road that runs through the Arch, the remainder of the community gathers. The sophomores line the sides of the road that are closest to the arch, the juniors line past them, away from the arch, and the seniors all gather down the way at the senior steps. The more I read this description, the more I realize it's really hard to get without visual aids, so here:

Parade Night roles are based on the relationships defined by the classes. The incoming frosh take the juniors as their sister class. The sophomores are seen as adversarial, and the seniors are apathetic. Through this process, the juniors and seniors "mentor" the frosh and sophomores, respectively, until as juniors and seniors, they receive younger sister classes. These relationships are prevalent throughout the first three traditions. On Parade Night, once the classes are assembled in their proper order, the frosh then run down the stairs, into the arch, and down the road that the upperclasswomen are lining. On the way, they are pelted with various manner of water balloons, hoses, etc. by the sophomores and then showered with candy by their junior sister class (although, by the very nature of the beast, they are more likely showered by the sophomore water and pelted with hard candy from the well-meaning juniors). The seniors, in their vast show of apathy, watch the proceedings and wait for the step sing.

By way of establishing some history, the older parade nights (probably until the 60s or 70s, please let me know if you were a part of the transition) were quite different. There was a large bonfire built on Merion Green. There was a parade, led by the local firemen's band, that led to the bonfire. I believe that the frosh joined hands in circles around the bonfire and the sophomores tried to break through these circles.

Part of the older Parade Night ceremony has survived to date. Each frosh class writes a Parade Night Song, which the sophomores attempt to steal a copy of so that they can write a Parade Night Parody. I am not sure if these songs were sung around the bonfire, or at a step sing in the older ceremony, but they are part of the step sing today.

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