Forgotten Traditions

By Brian Brennan

Like all college campuses, Youngstown State University has hosted many traditions. Some are still observed such as Homecoming, Greek Sing and the painting of the rock. Others were either short-lived or slowly died out. The following five traditions lasted for more than a decade before passing from the scene.

The Bare Brunch began in 1928 when psychology instructor John W. Bare prescribed an outing at Mill Creek Park as a treatment for “spring fever.” During the years in which the brunch was served, students would enjoy a late outdoor breakfast. Games such as baseball and dancing would follow. This tradition continued until student apathy and accusations of vandalism led to its permanent cancellation in 1959.

Sadie Hawkins Day was first sponsored in 1939 by the Phi Kappa Delta fraternity. The inspiration came from “Li’l Abner,” a popular comic strip about the residents of the fictional Appalachian community of Dogpatch. During the festivities, a race was held where the girls chased after the guys who were given a head start. The resulting couples — attired in homemade Dogpatch costumes — were then wed (for the day) by a local city or county official posing as “Marryin’ Sam.” A dance followed. As the comic strip declined in popularity, so did this tradition, which faded out as the 1960s drew to a close.

In 1946, the first Mardi Gras dance was held at Youngstown College. Sponsored by the Newman Club, the Catholic student organization, a Mardi Gras queen was elected by the male members of the club. In 1947, it was decided to make this semi-formal dance an annual event. Mardi Gras continued to be celebrated and supported by the Newman Club until the early 1970s, when it was discontinued.

The annual Ugly Man competition was held by the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity. Starting in 1954, the contest was open to all fraternities, clubs, and unaffiliated students. Each entrant would submit an 8-by-10 inch photograph of himself wearing the most hideous and outlandish makeup possible. Students would then choose the ugliest image with each vote costing one penny. The contestant garnering the most money won, with the proceeds going to charity. This competition ended in 1970.

Surf’s Up began in 1984 as a beach-themed dance, usually held in February or March when it was snowing outside. A year later, it became a week-long event and continued to grow in popularity. Movies such as “Beach Blanket Bingo” were screened. The Pub served a special pizza with a pineapple topping. Offices in Kilcawley Center were decorated with tropical décor. The highpoint was a dance held at the end of the week in the Chestnut Room, which was transformed into a seaside paradise. It was the perfect antidote to the winter blues; however, the rowdiness of the 1994 event, along with a physical altercation during the festivities, led to the end of the party forever.

As long as there are students at YSU, new customs reflecting the times will emerge, sometimes supplanting the old. Of this, one can be sure.

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