May Day

Saturday, May 4, 2019

An important part of graduation weekend is the May Day ceremony, one of Bluffton’s oldest traditions, which began in 1910. It intertwines the past with alumni reunions, the present by honoring this year's graduates, and the future when honored first-year students perform the traditional Maypole dance. 

Activities include a May Day Run/Walk and the May Day Musical. You are invited to participate in any and all May Day events.

THE BOX OFFICE  is open weekdays from 8a.m.-11 p.m. and is located at the Information Desk in Marbeck Center, or purchase tickets for meals, the musical and register for the May Day Run/Walk online at .

participation in the May Day Ceremony is required for graduating seniors.
Only those involved in a Bluffton University athletic event are excused. Male students should wear shirt, tie, slacks. Female students can wear a skirt/dress or dressy slacks/blouse. If the weather is cold, please wear a sweater or jacket.

Graduating seniors:
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Lunch in Burcky Gym (optional)

1 p.m. – Graduating seniors report to Stutzman Lecture Hall to line up
1:30 p.m. – May Day ceremony, Centennial Lawn
2:30 p.m. – Graduates and families are invited to celebrate with faculty and staff and enjoy graduation cake, Centennial Lawn

New this year: a May Day 1/2 mile fun run.
2013 King and Queen,Zeke Tracy and Leah Waltermyer.
Former ministry team members reconnect and share in a worship service led by the 2012-13 Shining Through ministry team.
Any one who has ever participated in a musical group is invited to the Alumni Choir Sing.
A highlight of graduation weekend.


Visit the Bluffton University bookstore each day until 5 p.m.
  9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Annual Juried Student Exhibition, Sauder Visual Arts Center
  4 p.m. Class of '68 reception and dinner, Marbeck Center
  4:30 p.m. Class of '78 reception and dinner, Sommer Center
  7:30 p.m. May Day Musical, "[title of show]," Yoder Recital Hall
  7 a.m. Check-in and registration for May Day Run/Walk, Sommer Center
  8 a.m. - 9 a.m. May Day Run/Walk, Sommer Center (start and finish)
  9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Annual Juried Student Exhibition, Sauder Visual Arts Center
  9 a.m. Class of '68 coffee and conversation, Marbeck Center Gallery Lounge
  9:30 a.m. Alumni Choir Sing/Student Honors Recital, Yoder Hall
  9:30 - 11:30 a.m. Guided campus tours leave every 30 minutes from Marbeck Center's Kiva and Lincoln Hall mementos can be purchased in the Kiva
  10:30 - 11:15 a.m. Music Department reception, Mosiman Hall
  11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Class of `73 brunch, Houshower House
  11:30 a.m - 1 p.m. Lunch for graduates and alumni class years 2015, 2016, 2017, Burcky Gym
  11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Lunch for alumni class years 1940-2014, Marbeck Center
  1:30 p.m. May Day Ceremony, Centennial Lawn
  2:30 p.m. Class of 2018 reception on Centennial Lawn. Introduce your family to faculty and enjoy May Day cupcakes.
  2:30 p.m. Class of '68 conversation in Musselman Library reading room
  2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Science and mathematics reception for alumni and graduates/families, Shoker 
  2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Guided campus tours leave every 30 minutes from Marbeck Center's Kiva and Lincoln Hall mementos can be purchased in the Kiva
  3 - 4:30 p.m. Retirement reception/open house for Dr. James M. Harder, president, Yoder Recital Hall lobby
  3 - 6 p.m. Ultimate Frisbee, library green
  5:30 p.m. Pi Delta Society Banquet, The Commons
  7:30 p.m. May Day Musical, "[title of show]," Yoder Recital Hall
  10:30 a.m. Baccalaureate, Founders Hall
  1 - 5 p.m. Annual Juried Student Exhibition, Sauder Visual Arts Center
  2 p.m. Commencement, Sommer Center


[title of show]
An original Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen, book by Hunter Bell, this delightful contemporary show is an original musical about writing an original musical. Premiering in the 2004 Musical Theatre Festival in New York City, and documenting its own process of creation, this small-cast show addresses themes of creative collaboration, self-doubt and the journey of following your dreams.

Yoder Recital Hall - adults $15; students $5
May  4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Buy tickets

may day runMAY DAY RUN/WALK
A four-mile race/Nature Preserve walk sponsored by the Bluffton University Alumni Association with support from Bluffton Hospital. Register early to reserve your tech-fabric shirt. Medals awarded to top three finishers in each age/gender bracket. Trophies awarded to fastest male and fastest female. 

Sommer Center
7 a.m. check in and  walk-up registration begins;
8 a.m. START four-mile race and Nature Preserve walk 
9 a.m. Medals and trophies awarded

This exhibit showcases work created by all Bluffton University students in the arts programs in a variety of mediums including ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture.

Grace Albrecht Gallery, Sauder Visual Arts Center
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

A highlight of May Day is when former Bluffton choir/chorale members gather and revisit their favorite choral pieces. We will intersperse some solo performance pieces by our best music students. A reception follows in the Gilliom Room. The alumni choir will gather again to sing "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" to close the May Day ceremony.



Come and reminisce. Reconnect with your classmates, renew friendships and celebrate Bluffton! Because of growing crowds, two venues have been established. A buffet luncheon will be available in Marbeck Center for alumni, family and friends through 2014. A picnic lunch will be available inside Burcky gym for alumni, family and friends of classes 2015-2017; and for 2018 graduates, their families and current students . Adult lunches $15, Children 10 and under $8

Marbeck Center Commons and Burcky Gym
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Tickets available online and at the door

This event celebrates the end of an academic year, the beginning of a new chapter for graduates and the remembrance of times past for alumni. It includes the colorful Maypole dance performed by first-year students, crowning of the queen and king and recognition of graduating seniors.
Centennial Lawn
1:30 p.m.


The 2018 Pi Delta Annual Banquet will be held in the Commons at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5.




may day


Bluffton students, parents and alumni celebrate May Day each year on an early May weekend. This celebration includes alumni reunions, graduation events and student activities.

The May Day tradition at Bluffton University dates back to 1910 and continues to feature the Maypole dance, perhaps the most spectacular event of the weekend.

Each year, 16 first-year students, eight men and eight women, are chosen to dance the Maypole dance. The dance takes place around a large pole. The dancers, wearing colorful, Germanic-style costumes, encircle the pole. Then each couple in turn grabs two streamers that are hung from the top of the pole. The dancers proceed to weave the streamers around the pole. When the dancers have wound their streamers part way down the pole, the weaving stops and each couple is reunited.

m dance May Day celebrations were once popular across the United States at many colleges and universities. However, they are now rare.

May Day celebrations date back to 238 B.C. in Rome. The Roman holiday was a celebration of the goddess Flora and the coming of spring. In England, May Day was a celebration of flowers and the coming of spring after a cold winter. The May Day dance represented the joy of the coming of spring and the streamers represented the rays of the sun.

At Bluffton the May Day celebration represents the end of a school year for students, the beginning of a new chapter for seniors and the remembrance of times past for alumni. The tradition weaves together past, present and future around the Maypole in a never-ending circle.

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