Traditions

No matter how different our lives are from the lives of those first students, there is a cheerful exuberance that unites us with 19th-century Cornellians.

 

The Big Red Bear
The original mascot, a brown bear, belonged to Cornell’s first biology professor, Burt Green Wilder (he’d been a surgeon in the Civil War and was quite a character). John Henry Comstock, class of 1874, staged wrestling demonstrations with the beast. The bear was a presence at early football games, and his representation (joined in recent years by Mrs. Bear) lives on to this day at football and hockey games and other campus events (like Cornell Days!).

Homecoming
Alumni return to campus to cheer on our football players as they challenge the visiting team, reminisce about the good old days (as shall you, one day), and pitch in for the Alma Mater.

Our Theatrical Traditions
Theatrical productions have been popular with Cornellians since the 1890s at least, when Cornell’s drama club, Masque, performed melodramas in drag at the downtown Wilgus Opera House. Cornell’s Department of Performing and Media Arts stages a variety of productions each year, in a number of theatrical traditions.

The Chimes
Cornell’s chimes were played the day the university opened in 1868, and have rung over the campus ever since. “Cornell Changes,” a.k.a. “The Jennie McGraw Rag,” celebrating the original chimes’ donor, is the tune that opens each day’s concerts.

Dragon Day
Begun in 1901 by architecture student Willard Straight, this annual spring parade plays out the long-standing rivalry between architecture and engineering students. First-year architects build a multistory dragon and parade it with great fanfare from Sibley Hall to the Engineering Quad, and then to the Arts Quad where it was consumed in a spectacular and roaring bonfire (today’s celebration ends in a ceremonial slaying of the dragon).

First-Years on the Field
First-year students storm the field at the first home football game of the season – halfbacks, coaches, and tuba players flee for their lives.

Seniors on the Field
Last home game of the season, seniors mob the field in a show of avid support for Cornell’s gridders.

Lynah Faithful
Join the crowd of students cheering on the Men’s Ice Hockey Team at Lynah Rink.

Slope Day
Check out the music and grab some food on Libe Slope to celebrate the end of spring classes! Previous Slope Day headliners were Walk the Moon (2016), Chance the Rapper (2015), Ludacris (2014), Kendrick Lamar (2013), Taio Cruz (2012), Nelly (2011), Drake (2010), Pussy Cat Dolls (2009), and Gym Class Heroes (2008).