The Parade

The Panther Day parade, last year’s winner of the New Traditions contest, began at Kirk Alumni Center on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and ended with a celebration at the Harvest Festival behind the Mahaney Center for the Arts (CFA). 

Led by the Pep Band, participating student groups included the International Students Organization, The Mountain Club, Evolution Dance Crew, Feminist Action at Middlebury, Queer and Trans People of Color, Green Dot and the Student Government Association (SGA).

To encourage attendance, parade organizers offered $20 Amazon gift cards to the first students who arrived at the parade. The crowd was sparse for the Panther Day parade, but the Harvest Fest was brimming with students and alumni alike. 

BENJY RENTON
Student Government Association President Nia Robinson ’19 leads the Panther Day parade alongside the panther mascot on Saturday of Homecoming Weekend.

The parade and Harvest Fest festivities were followed by a reception at Kirk Alumni Center to mark the opening of an exhibit titled “The Continuity of Change: Living, Learning, and Standing Together.” Six student interns and college archivist Danielle Rougeau curated the exhibit in an effort to highlight the history of student activism at the college using photos and documents from Special Collections. A concert by the band Harsh Armadillo in Wilson Hall concluded the day. 

“Panther Day desires to start a new tradition,” said Baishakhi Taylor, interim vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “In that sense it builds on Middlebury’s history. What we want Panther Day to become really is to savor the spirit of Middlebury as it has evolved and grown.” 

The idea for Panther Day, one of more than 30 submitted proposals, came from junior students Emily Barnard, Ben Snow, Kate Zecca and Sophia Peluso. In an email earlier this year announcing the New Traditions contest, President Laurie Patton wrote that there was a significant desire to implement a new tradition at the college. 

In a time that, like Isabel Wilkerson says, the country is dangerously fragmented, how do you create a tradition that is really focused towards not just celebrating the spirit of this community but bringing the campus together?”

— Baishakhi Taylor

When asked how Panther Day may fulfill these hopes, Taylor emphasized the need for a new tradition that not only celebrates Middlebury’s spirit but also brings people together. Panther Day sought to be a unifying force for the student body.

“We wanted a tradition that everyone can be a part of,” Taylor said.

Dave Kloepfer, assistant director of student activities for programming and events, said the choice to make Panther Day the college’s newest tradition was rooted in its ability to allow for various forms of participation. 

According to Taylor, the hope for Panther Day was to celebrate everything that makes Middlebury unique and special. She acknowledged that there have been few opportunities to celebrate the college lately.

“In a time that, like Isabel Wilkerson says, the country is dangerously fragmented, how do you create a tradition that is really focused towards not just celebrating the spirit of this community but bringing the campus together?” she said, referencing the college’s 2018 commencement speaker. 

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