Traditions and Legends
At the College of William and Mary, there is a great number of traditions, secret locations, rumors, and urban legends. This page is meant as a brief introduction to these varied events, locations, and stories.
William and Mary Events
- Blowout: Imbibe in quantities of alcohol to mark the last day of classes. The tradition of blowout started with the late 1960s tradition of "Breakout" where students on the last day of classes would dive into the pool at the Williamsburg Inn. The term "blowout" was started in the 1970s with parties at the end of the fall and spring semesters hosted by the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. Over time, blowout was only marked on the last day of classes by seniors in the spring semester. Today, blowout has expanded to the fall semester and to underclassmen. Graduating seniors may also visit their freshmen dorms and toast their first dorm room. The university began offering alcohol-free alternatives to commemorate the final day of classes circa 2005 with games, food, and entertainment on the Sunken Garden.
- Charter Day
- Commemoration Day
- Candlelight Ceremony: The evening candlelight ceremony on the eve of commencement was first held in May 1978.
- Walk Across Campus: The commencement ceremony currently begins with the graduates gathering in front of the Wren Building for a brief ceremony, walking through the building's central hallway, and across campus to William and Mary Hall where the commencement ceremony is held. The walk across campus is led by the outgoing Student Association president who carries the College Mace and by the faculty marshalls. It was first held in May 1978.
- King and Queen’s Ball: Held at the end of each Spring semester; created in the 1980s based on a previously discontinued dining and concert event. (King and Queen's Ball, Tour Guides Blog)
- Opening Convocation
- Yule Log Ceremony
- Triathlon: (1) Jump the wall of the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg and/or run through the maze of the Governor's Palace, (2) Swim (sometimes naked) in the Crim Dell, (3) streak across the Sunken Garden. There is reportedly also an English Majors Triathlon with one component being spending 24 hours in Swem Library.
- If a couple kisses on the bridge across the Crim Dell, they will inevitably marry. To reverse this destiny, a person can later throw their partner off of the bridge. If a person walks across the bridge alone they will not marry.
- The spirits of several disgruntled former students are said to haunt Tucker Hall.
- The spirits of students who were forced to attend the Indian School that was housed in the Brafferton run across campus, especially the Sunken Garden, at night.
- Lake Matoaka Ampitheatre, Boathouse, and College Woods
- Echo Point at the Tyler Family Busts: if a person stands at the precise center of the circle, with his back at the 3 busts of the Tyler family and facing Blair Hall and speaks, the speaker alone experiences a strange acoustic phenomenon and hears his words reverberated and amplified.
- Greenhouse on the roof of Millington Hall
- Observatory on the roof of Small Hall
- Jamestown Road Tunnel
- Underground Steam Tunnels
- The Flat Hat, 2014 April 25, pg. 6.
- "The Legend of Crim Dell and other Campus Rumors," Jay Busbee, class of 1990, William and Mary Alumni Magazine, Spring/Summer 2006, Vol. 71, No. 3/4.
- The Flat Hat, 22 September 2006.
- The Flat Hat, 15 April 2008.
- The Flat Hat, May 5, 1972.
- The DoG Street Journal, What We Carry With Us, 7 June 2008.
- Pranks, Goofs, and Practical Jokes, William and Mary Alumni Magazine, Vol. 74 no. 2, Winter 2008, accessed 5 March 2009.
- College legend talks tradition, The Flat Hat, 10 April 2009.
- The College's Most Beloved Ghosts, Ghouls, and Secrets, The Flat Hat, 21 August 2009.
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To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for an overview of the Special Collections Database, W&M Digital Archive, Flat Hat-William & Mary News-Alumni Gazette index, card catalogs, and other tools available to help you find material of interest in William & Mary Libraries Special Collections Research Center.
|A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki|
|The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.|