Mountain Day is a yearly tradition at Berry College. It’s sort of a combined birthday party for Martha Berry, homecoming celebration and alumni reunion. Needless to say, it’s pretty special.
The celebration begins on Friday afternoon, when students go back to their dorms and prepare for the Mountain Day Olympics. My (alternative) housing had the theme “zombies” this year. Since I hate zombies, my friends and I decided to be zombie hunters. I ran back after my last class on Friday, threw on some leggings, boots, and a hardcore jacket. I made a messy side braid and even did a make-up bruise over my left eye. I met up with my friends amidst a horde of gathering zombies.
Once all the people were assembled, we went down to the main road on campus. We lined the sidewalks and watched as the dorms showed off their themes.
Some memorable ones included: Deerapocalypse (“7:1 – The odds were never in our favor”), Hunger Games (faculty/staff team), and Adventurers (Ford girls). But my favorite was the Dana/Thomas Berry theme: Braveheart. The students dressed up in homemade kilts, painted their faces blue and charged out onto the road shouting. They were followed by a drummer and a boy playing the bagpipe. Behind this procession was a king and his armed guard. I was duly impressed.
After all the teams were assembled, we marched down to the library lawn for the events. There was a ceremonial lighting of the torch, a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and the games began! I was too short to see much, but I’m told it was a fiery competition. Some might even say that the faculty/staff had a girl on fire! (Ha ha, Hunger Games joke…)
I had to leave before the end of the games to meet my family, who were coming into town. I didn’t wash the bruise off my face because I was rather proud of it. I had to stop to pick up a book at Barnes and Noble and a flower at Kroger, and I tried to act as unabused as possible. However, I know I started the hotel clerk, if no one else. I met my family at the hotel. My parents and siblings had come down from VA, and my grandparents were up from FL. It was a fun reunion, and there was much rejoicing.
On Saturday, we began our trek to Berry rather early. We swung by the townhouse to pick up my roommate, Kyley, and then set out for Mountain Campus and the grand march. The tradition of the grand march is a little foggy in my memory, but it goes something like this: One year, Berry students wanted to show Martha their gratitude, so they held hands and marched up and down a large hill and put gifts down in front of her at the base of the hill. Apparently, this was such an inspirational thing that it’s an annual tradition.
Kyley and I had been practicing this year. I remember during my sophomore march, I started having an asthma attack, and since my arthritis makes my ankles weak and my heart is rather prone to palpitations I was determined to make this year as enjoyable as possible. Especially because this year I was going to get to hold a boy’s hand (gasp!). Because Berry has a high number of girls, normally the seniors and a few lucky juniors get to actually hold hands with a boy.
Kyley, my other friends and I all lined up with our class. We started walking down the hill, where we dropped pennies in a basket to represent our gifts. Then it was back up the hill. At the top, we joined hands with other students, then turned and went back down. This continued until there were sixteen students in each row. When we got to the bottom the last time, we all sang the alma mater together (some more on key than others). It was very fun–even if the tradition is a little weird.
After this, my grandmother, mom, sister and I went to Oak Hill, Martha Berry’s house. We explored the grounds quite a bit, though we ran out of time to see the museum. My grandmother loved every minute.
That night, we went out to eat and had a celebration of my dad’s 50th birthday (Oct 1) and my 22nd birthday (Oct 14). We ate Mexican and churros and it was delightful. My birthday presents included a fancy tea pot, Tardis Kindle covers and a little miniature thatched cottage.
The following morning, my folks hit the road. Overall, it was a fantastic last Mountain Day (as a student).