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Color Day was an annual Spring event that was held from 1902 to 1937.
A typical day included a noon picnic on the lawn, catered by the faculty, followed by a band concert and then the pageant. Many of the pageants involved an "Olde English May Day" theme, with garland bearing students escorting a May Queen and performing various folk dances. After the pageant would come a baseball game between the school team and some local rival, and then the day would finish with a dance. The dances were very popular, and young people from a wide area would come to them. Although no official record tells why the event was ended, college folklore has it that Principal Hartwell felt that the event had grown too popular, and was becoming more than the school could reasonably accomodate.
The Brockport Normal School Saga from 1929, had this to say about Color Day:
"Every Spring, during the month of May an organized group composed of students and members of the Faculty assume the pleasant duty of upholding a tradition dear to the hearts of all students and alumnae. For years Color Day has been observed as the outstanding date on the school calendar. It has been a time when purely academic studies were forgotten, and students met each other on an equal plane of good fellowship. It is a day when the alumni remember their Alma Mater and return to renew old friendships and live over again for a few hours the happy years they spent in the venerable halls of Brockport Normal.
"Tradition has ruled that the program for Color Day shall be practically the same each year. The morning hours are given to various classes. The Class ‘Stunts’ are performed in the Normal auditorium for the amusement and entertainment of friends and classmates. One of the most popular events of the day is the luncheon served on the campus by Mr. Cooper and his very capable assistants. After the luncheon there are games and minor sports. The main event of the program, however, is the pageant. This presentation is composed entirely of Normal School students, and has won the praise of educational leaders who have witnessed it.
"After the pageant there is a baseball game between the Normal team and that of another school or college. All concessions are run by the various student organizations, and it has become a matter of tradition that the different organizations shall have the same concessions each year. In the evening is held the annual color Day dance, and it is undoubtedly the most popular dance of the year.
"Color Day has come to mean a great deal to both students and faculty. It is the day when school colors are worn by everyone, and when school spirit dominates the minds of all. It is the day when Brockport Normal means more than just a school, and undergraduate life takes on a new significance. To the Freshman is revealed the fact that school traditions are something to be revered and respected. To the Juniors comes a feeling of duty toward their school, and a sense of responsibility to keep unsullied its reputation and good name. To the Seniors comes a feeling of sadness that their school days will shortly be terminated by graduation, and their friends and companions of three years will be scattered far and wide; some of them never to be seen again. However, the spirit of Color Day will remain in the hearts of all loyal students and keep alive those fond memories of school life."
Color Day meant that all participants wore the school colors: yellow and green. Yellow represented the shade of the dandelion, and green was the hue of the grass. It was customary that every student and faculty member wore ribbons of these colors during this occasion.
The 1929 Color Day opened on May 17 at 9:30 in the morning when the entire school met for an assembly. Each class entertained the group by performing a stunt. At eleven o’clock, several contests were held around campus such as archery, baseball, and tug-o’-war. At noon the seniors put on a dance and lunches were served by Mr. Cooper and his associates. The afternoon brought a musical play called A Weft of Dreams, which was held inside for a better acoustic performance by the singers. Four o’clock brought a positive outcome for the traditional baseball game between the local team and LeRoy high school. The evening concluded with a dance. In 1929, Sax Smith’s nine-piece orchestra performed, and the gym was transformed into a suitably decorated dance hall.
Ready for the Color Day Procession outside the old Normal, 1924.
Another aspect of Color Day was that of the May Queen. One of the last Color Days was held on May 13, 1936, and the day started with the crowning of the May Queen and her attendants. The theme was "The Silver-and-One Jubilee", and it started with a processional including the entire cast, then the crowning, the May Walk, and culminated with the May Pole Dance. This was a rather unusual event for Color Day; a queen had only been chosen in 1914, and 1933-37. There were no May Queens in the interval between.
Color Day Queen Marjorie Southwood and her court in 1934
A mock trial was held at the third Color Day in 1904. It was called "Who Stole the Rooster", and many citizens of Brockport participated in the event. The first Color Day held under Dr. Thompson’s principalship was on May 8, 1911 and consisted of a collection of Folk songs and dances. May 17, 1918 was held during a War time, and the class decided to make that the theme of Color Day with a medley of war tunes, a flag drill, and a performance called Dance of the Allies. For Dance of the Allies, Round and Round the Village was played for England, Pop Goes the Weasel for the United States, Highland Fling for Scotland, Russian Dance for Russia, and Minuet for France.
The 1920 pageant was entitled "Our Country", and several Brockport citizens participated, including Dr. Thompson who played the part of Columbus. For May 19, 1923, the theme was an Old English May Day and included a recital from the Normal School chorus and band. In 1927, an interclass obstacle race and tug-o’-war were part of the program.
The Brockport Normal School Color Day even has its own song. Miss Ingalls composed the lyrics, and Miss Haynes created the music.
Spirit of Color
Day without peer,
Born of the Springtime,
Youth of the year.
Flowers of yellow,
Green of the grass,
To all who pass.
Season of the spring,
Wearing our banners,
Honor, we bring.
We would burn incense
Though all our days,
Making each action
Count but to praise.
Easy is service
On this one day,
For this we pray.
Crowned with thy colors,
Dear Alma Mater
Mother and Queen,
Yellow and green.