Before there was Spring Fling, there was “Skimmer”—an annual rite of spring for Penn students, held mostly in Fairmount Park, featuring concerts, dances, athletic events and, most prominently, lots of
The event began somewhat informally in 1949, when a group of Penn students trekked down to the Schuylkill River to cheer on the Quaker crew team. In just a matter of years, though, the original purpose of the event was forgotten. Not long after the bands started to show up, Skimmer earned a reputation as a big-time blowout, and students from up and down the East Coast started making the trip. The parties grew bigger—too big, according to some—and soon both the University and the Fairmount Park Commission were making efforts to tone things down.
These tactics had only limited success, however, so University officials eventually decided to move Skimmer events out of the park and back to campus. The students reluctantly accepted the change and, starting in 1973, Skimmer was replaced, finally and officially, by Spring Fling.
For more on this and other notable moments in Penn’s history, visit the University Archives web site at www.archives.upenn.edu.
Originally published on March 29, 2007