The first Hey Day celebration in 1916 was a formal affair to celebrate the “moving-up” of juniors to the senior class.
In 1931, Class Day activities were folded into Hey Day to include a reading of the Class History, Class Prophecy and Class Poem, the presentation of the Senior Honors Awards and the announcement of those elected into various honorary societies. Women’s Hey Day, pictured above in 1948, was similar in scope. First celebrated in 1926, after the men’s undergraduate student government voted to exclude them from the original Hey Day celebrations, the women’s event included an academic procession, the changing of offices, a valedictorian address and the induction of new members into various honor societies. Needless to say, the separate Hey Day festivities ended in 1968, and today, men and women march in the parade side-by-side.
Today, students also don straw hats and commemorative T-shirts, and douse each other with silly string, chocolate syrup or mustard. Despite today’s more spirited tone of the beloved Penn tradition, the intent is largely the same as it was in 1916—silly string or not, the rite of spring still marks the “moving up” of juniors to the senior class.
This year, students will march on April 24 in a parade from the western edge of campus, down Locust Walk to College Green, where Penn President Amy Gutmann will officially pronounce the Class of 2010 seniors.
For more information on Hey Day through the ages, go to the University Archives web site at www.archives.upenn.edu.
Originally published on April 23, 2009