Giddy Laughter

An undergraduate decides that the mud makes the 375th anniversary more fun.

A colossal confection: the red velvet cake created by Joanne Chang ’91 of Flour bakery
The sugar high from all the sweet treats that were served only added to the evening's exhilaration.
The crowds were appeased after receiving their "precious bricks" of red velvet cake.

You know what? I think the mud makes this even more fun...”

As we wriggled out of the crowd, clutching precious bricks of red-velvet cake, my friends and I couldn’t help our giddy laughter. We spun and squelched through the muck, craning our necks to see the LED screens, racing each other to finish our one-five-thousandth (but still monstrously big) portions of Harvard’s birthday cake. Could this night have been any more exhilarating?

Sure we knew the schedule—a throwback dinner, boisterous parades, Yo-Yo Ma, a dance party, and, of course, a colossal confection—but I could never have imagined the spirit of pure joy that would fill the Tercentenary Theatre during this big birthday bash. Rather than marring the proceedings, as we had all feared, the alternating drizzle and torrential downpours turned this well-planned party into something otherworldly. We were like soldiers mucking through a battlefield, only instead of falling into danger at every turn, we fell into more treats. I think we all also felt like small children on Christmas morning—no matter how well you know what’s coming, you still squeal with delight upon sighting Santa’s spread. We, too, exclaimed in amazement each time a new element of the evening unfolded.

Everyone I talked to on leaving the Yard had one phrase to share: “That was just so fun. It really was.” Though this doesn’t seem revolutionary, I found it rather remarkable—very few events I’ve ever attended have elicited such praise. Maybe they are “pretty fun” or “not bad,” but people always find a hitch. With Harvard’s 375th, no hitch existed: the University pulled out the stops, and we got to bask in the success.

Reflecting back on the evening, I think what made it special was Harvard’s overwhelming generosity. The night was open, casual, friendly, and welcoming. Everyone from the first-years to the multi-years-out alums ate the same food, danced to the same music, and dodged the same precipitation. Just as President Faust reminded the crowd that Harvard seeks to become more inclusive each year, so did this party celebrate our equality as members of the Harvard community.

Image removed.Isabel Ruane ’14 is one of the magazine’s Berta Greenwald Ledecky Undergraduate Fellows.

Read more articles by: Isabel Ruane

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