Mountain Day celebrates 100 years

J.C. Albritton, Campus Carrier Staff Reporter

On Oct. 4, Berry College will host its 100th annual Mountain Day—an event filled with unique traditions and a deep history.

The first Mountain Day was held in 1914 as a way for Martha Berry to celebrate her birthday with the students of the Berry Schools. That day included games of sack races and leap frog, dinner atop Lavender Mountain and a 32-pound cake for Martha Berry.

                                                       Photo contributed by Ana Hadas, 2011 Cabin Log
Berry students in 2010 celebrate with the traditional march on Mountain Campus. 

One hundred years later, Mountain Day weekend includes the Mountain Day Olympics and talent show, Marthapalooza and the Grand March, a tradition dating back to 1927. Along with these events, several new initiatives will be added in honor of Mountain Day’s 100th Anniversary.

One of those new initiatives added is “A 100 for our 100th,” where various student groups and organizations are trying to collect 100 items for non-profits in the Rome area. The largest of these is the Mountain of Cans sponsored by the Dean of Students Office.

“Students can donate canned goods in their residence halls to earn points for the Mountain Day Olympics, but it’s also open to alumni, faculty, staff and parents,” Debbie Heida, vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said.

The proceeds of the canned good drive will benefit Action Ministries Rome, a local nonprofit committed to feeding the hungry. 

Another new initiative being added this year is the “1914 Challenge.” Current students will be asking fellow classmates, alumni and friends of Berry for small gifts throughout the picnic and Grand March on Saturday.

Another new initiative being added this year is the “1914 Challenge.”

“With Berry celebrating the 100th year of Mountain Day, we thought it’d be nice to commemorate that by asking for 1,914 participants to give small gifts to further the mission Martha Berry started 100 years ago,” Sloane Hernandez, director of the annual fund, explained.

Jennifer Beard, associate director of alumni affairs, said that all who participate in the 1914 challenge will receive a sticker that will earn them a 10 percent discount from many of the restaurants on Broad Street.

After the Grand March and picnic, Berry will host its first home football game  on this Mountain Day with a blue-out theme. The game will start at 6 p.m., with the student Shipyard tailgate starting at 4:30 p.m. After the game, there will be a firework display to commemorate the 100th Mountain Day.  The  Vikings will take on Washington University in St. Louis at Barron Stadium near downtown Rome.

However, football is not new to the Mountain Day tradition. An annual football game was a central event of Mountain Day from the 1940s until the mid-1970s.

                       Photo contributed by Berry Archives
Students participate in the traditional Grand March
on Mountain Campus in 1983. 

 After the football game, the 10th annual Marthapalooza will be held in Clara Bowl from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. This year’s theme is “Wild West.” There will be games, rides, food and much more.

For senior Gavin Waits, Mountain Day is a tradition that is full of memories and fun times with friends and is central to life at Berry.

“Mountain Day … [is a] wonderful thing that only Berry students know,” Waits said. “As strange of a tradition it is, Mountain Day is something unique to our Berry family … It is great to celebrate how far our wonderful school has come and the birthday of our founder, Miss Berry, while recognizing the school’s history.”

With more than 5,000 students, family members, faculty, alumni and community members in attendance, Mountain Day is a great way to connect with alumni and friends of Berry. 

“Any time a student has the opportunity to meet and talk with alumni, they should take advantage of it,” Beard said. “Alumni want to help students more than anything because they value their education at Berry and want to help current students move forward in life.”

Mountain Day is a special time at Berry and is something that all students should take advantage of. From the Olympics, to the talent show, to the Grand March, there is something for every student.

“I wish every student would participate in the Grand March,” Heida said. “It is a unique tradition to Berry. It is one of those things that gives you the true Berry feeling of participating in something with all of your peers and it connects you with generations of generations of Berry students.”

A full schedule of Mountain Day events can be found on Berry’s website.

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