Dragon day is an old Cornell tradition. Each year, the freshmen architecture students spend months building a dragon. On “Dragon Day” the architecture students parade their dragon through the Cornell campus. The exact date of Dragon Day is a closely guarded secret, although my own experience suggests that the Thursday before Spring Break is a good date to bet. Their parade ends in the arts quad, where the dragon is destroyed by fire while its creators dance around the bonfire. Sounds positively midieval, doesn’t it?
In addition, there is a long standing Dragon Day tradition of conflict between the architects and the engineers. As the dragon approaches the engineering quad, the engineers display a creature of their own to frighten the dragon away. This creature is built by the mysterious “Phoenix Society,” although the creature is not always a phoenix. (This also explains the people in riot gear surrounding the dragon. In years past, people – especially engineers – have developped a bad habit of throwing snowballs and other hard things at the dragon. This year, they used water soaked sponge balls, which seemed significantly more civilized. Besides, there were no snowballs to throw.)
For more information on the history of dragon day, see here.
The top picture above shows this year’s dragon, which was the best I’ve seen in my three years of Cornell Dragon Days. This one had a head which moved smoothly up and down as well as flapping wings.
The bottom picture above shows this year’s phoenix, which, in my opinion, was a spectacular improvement over the phoenix of two years ago and last year’s cobra. The engineers this year made use of the huge crane which is currently constructing Duffield Hall to fly their creation menacingly over the dragon. It was excellent.
One day I should write an essay about the metaphorical meaning of dragon day and the “conflict” between architects and engineers (which is itself really a metaphor for the conflict between analytical and asthetic design). Yeah, right. Like I’ll ever have time for that.