May Day

Posted on August 21, 2017

In 1904, the North Carolina State Normal and Industrial College (now known as UNCG) held its first May Day celebration. The spring themed festival consisted of plays, musical processions by the Boston Festival Orchestra, and students dancing around flower covered poles, also known as May Poles. The celebration was held annually and grew until it peaked in 1912 and then again in 1916. Almost 3,000 people attended the 1912 celebration to watch the 1,000 contestants in the five-hour long pageant while large crowds turned out again in 1916 to watch over 1,200 contestants participate. Due to the disruption of World War I, May Day celebrations did not resume after the 1916 festival until the mid-1920’s. This time the events were less elaborate than previous years. In 1929, the celebration became more focused on the individuals attending the school rather than on the performances and thus came the crowning of the first May Day queen. The May Day celebrations came to an end in 1954 when the Senior class voted to abolish it due to its proximity with commencement, its financial obligations, and its time commitment.


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