Tuesday, November 27, 2007

THE DEMISE OF EASTERS

The same group of anthropology students at UVA that discovered that the ancient definition of “groh” was “mediocre,” have made yet another breakthrough discovery.

The students taking the popular lab, Commonwealth Culture (the 1980s) 402 have made a startling discovery. While it was long believed that Easters was ended in 1982 by then UVA prez Frank Hereford due to fears for student safety after a gas pipe break, truth is it was one Virginia Tech graduate and ex-Marine, General J.B. Hokie, who ultimately led to the long-held tradition's demise. (The young General is pictured here waving during his first Tech v. UVa football game.)

Comments like this were part of the Easters Ending Myth: "It was a pretty serious situation," former Dean of Students Bob Canevari said. "Ultimately, the ending of Easters came down to students' refusal to do what was necessary to minimize the dangers of the event.”

Canevari went on to say: “Easters was out of control, and students weren't willing to get it under control. Once we got a planning committee of students for Easters, they became aware of the problems and how serious of a situation Easters was."

The new discovery seems to indicate that “The General” (as he is known to his friends) and a band of Hokie commandos sabotaged the gas pipe line in a beer-fueled attempt to ruin his hated rival’s world famous party.
“I may have gotten a bit over zealous,” The General, now a full blown adult with a kid in college, would later say, “but those damn bow ties drove me crazy.”

The General admitted that his loose knit gang’s motto was “Schafer Is the One Beer To Have When You’re Raising All Kinds of Hell.”

Easters has a long history, dating back just prior to the turn of the century.

At the time when the University was an all-male school, there were four main social weekends: Opening in the fall, Mid-Winter in February, Easters during Easter weekend and Finals around graduation weekend.

Easters was a time when University men would invite women from the surrounding female colleges to attend dances at the University. Two competing dance organizations hosted the dance portion of Easters weekend: The Pot & Kettle Society and German Club, which ironically did not relate to German culture. (Hey, Hokies, that German Club thing should sound familiar!)

In the 1930s and 1940s, the dances were the highlight of the weekend. Then in the 1960s, the University fraternities became more involved. At the time, drinking was considered a violation of the honor code; however, this belief died quickly as the combination of Easters and alcohol grew more popular.

Drinking became even more influential when the legal drinking age for beer was lowered to 18 in 1974. Hence, alcohol became easily attainable -- a positive or negative change, depending on how one looks at it.

Easters eventually turned into a regional event -- students would invite friends from all along the East Coast to celebrate Easters weekend.

Like any college tradition, Easters lacked national notoriety until it got the definitive stamp of approval -- that of Playboy magazine. A 1974 issue of Playboy magazine listed the top party schools in the country, but left the University of Virginia off the list. Why, you might ask?
From the words of Playboy: “Sorry, U.Va., we don't rate professionals.”

A downpour of rain came during Easters weekend in 1975, creating an extremely muddy Mad Bowl field and quite a memorable scene for attendees and observers alike – Mud Bowl.

After the muddy weekend (it was so bad, dorm shower drains were clogged), the University tried to move the event away from Mad Bowl to another location off-Grounds but failed.

Despite concerns from officials, the magnitude of Easters continued to increase until it culminated in 1982, the year that would mark the end of a nearly century-long University tradition.

"In 1982 at Lambeth Field, there were 7,000 people, who, over the course of four hours, consumed 204 kegs of beer," Cozart said.

In addition, there were an estimated 20,000 students plus visitors on Rugby Road between Grady Avenue and University Avenue. The gas main suddenly broke at Grady; though the situation was quickly contained, University officials realized it was not possible to physically control a crowd as immense as this, especially when the majority of this large crowd was inebriated.

If you were there, the maniacal laughing you heard was none other than “The General” J.B. Hokie.

Presto-chango, Tradition over.

For more on the story – facts that is -- http://128.143.134.59/CVArticle.asp?ID=30347&pid=1588

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