May Day

    By Nora Beebe '26
    Jul. 20, 2023

    May Day is a well-known tradition on the Washington College campus. In recent years on the night of April 30th, students gather by the statue of George Washington in various stages of undress and run around the campus.

    The tradition began in 1967 when Professor Bennett Lamond's freshman English class read the poem, "Spring" by Gerald Manley Hopkins. The class became so enamored by the spirit of May Day that they decided to throw their own celebration. Armed with a maypole, wine, cookies, and strawberries, the class held an event on the campus green. Later that night, a group of male students moved the maypole to the front of Hodson Hall, undressed, and began to dance around it.

    From 1960s-2000s, students would streak throughout the day as well as around the flag pole on the night of April 30th. It was very common to see students naked in the town. However, in recent years students have toned down the celebration, largely due to the invention of social media.

    The most famous May Day incident was when one student, Peter Abronski, was arrested in 1978 for indecent exposure and disturbing the peace.  About 200 students surrounded the squad car he was arrested in and followed it down to the police station, shouting for the streaker's release. The dean of students eventually came to the jail and got Peter freed. This event was covered by a multitude of news outlets including the Washington Post.

    Nora is a philosophy and political science double major minoring in religious studies, passionate about the role philosophy can have in the modern day. Through her writing, she hopes to show that life's big questions are still out there, they've just changed over time.

    May pole

    May day bar

    May day men on lawn