Fear of the H1N1 virus failed to deter enthusiasm at this year’s Pumphandle, Knox’s traditional welcome ceremony.
The line of smiles, hugs, handshakes and high fives wound through the stairwells of Old Main this year. Students, faculty, and staff truly took over Old Main, greeting each other through the east entrance, up the three flights of stairs, across the third floor of the historic building and back down onto the west lawn.
Senior student Matt Stephens said he had never seen the traditional line take such a turn before.
“It just keeps getting more and more ridiculous every year,” he said.
“We’ve never done that before,” confirmed senior Nick Kalmus.
The dangers of filing hundreds of people up a three story, 152-year-old structure were not the college’s only concerns at this year’s Pumphandle. Plenty of Purell hand sanitizer was available to lessen the risk of spreading H1N1 and other diseases.
Only a few students wore gloves to the event, including seniors Jen Milius and Kate Cochran.
“It was kind of a joke,” said Milius. The absurdity of sporting bright yellow kitchen gloves attracted Milius and Cochran to the rubber barrier much more than the actual threat of the H1N1 virus.
“Just goes to show you that not even a flu pandemic can quash the excitement of one of the neatest traditions at this school,” said Milius.
The reaction garnered by the gloves, according to Milius, was worth it. A sentiment surely shared by various costumed characters who attended the event including Darth Vader, a gorilla, and one student in a gas mask. A number of campus clubs and Greek organizations stood together in matching shirts.
Fortunately, the tradition did not scare away this year’s freshman class.
“It was a fun, collective, awkward experience,” said freshman Nick Price of his first Pumphandle.
Dining Services provided a picnic dinner for students, faculty, staff, and friends after the event.