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Giddy Laughter

10.15.11

A colossal confection: the red velvet cake created by Joanne Chang ’91 of Flour bakery

A colossal confection: the red velvet cake created by Joanne Chang ’91 of Flour bakery

Photograph by Jim Harrison

The sugar high from all the sweet treats that were served only added to the evening's exhilaration.

The sugar high from all the sweet treats that were served only added to the evening's exhilaration.

Photograph by Jim Harrison

The crowds were appeased after receiving their "precious bricks" of red velvet cake.

The crowds were appeased after receiving their "precious bricks" of red velvet cake.

Photograph by Jim Harrison

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.

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Photograph courtesy of Meena Venkataramanan. 

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The author and her two roommates stand in the snow in front of their future home at Harvard.

March 2018, Randolph Courtyard: The author (center) and her two future roommates, Sreya at left and Pranati at right, have just run over from the Yard on Housing Day, having learned they’d been assigned to Adams House.

Photograph courtesy of Meena Venkataramanan. 

Harvard seniors and freshmen share Housing Day thoughts

Harvard undergraduates Jorge Campos and Reeda Iqbal

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Four young women of different ethnic backgrounds converse in a homey lounge

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