May Day


100th Maypole dance set at Bluffton

Bluffton University will mark its annual May Day weekend May 2-5 with traditional alumni reunions, student activities and graduation events, including the 100th edition of the Maypole dance with which alumni are familiar.

The dance features 16 first-year students who wear colorful costumes and dance in pairs around the Maypole, weaving streamers together. This year’s performance, part of the 11 a.m. May Day ceremony Saturday, May 4, on the Centennial Hall lawn, adds a ninth couple of “legacy” students, who have longstanding family ties to Bluffton.

The dance is symbolic of the weaving together of past, present and future—memories of the past, appreciation of the present and hope for the future are woven around the pole in a never-ending circle.

Students and their families, alumni and community members are encouraged to participate in other May Day weekend events, which also include:

Thursday, May 2-Saturday, May 4

· A production of “Songs for a New World,” at 7:30 p.m. each evening in Yoder Recital Hall. Tickets, $13 for adults and $5 for all students, are available online at or from 4-7 p.m. weekdays at the box office in the Sommer Center for Health and Fitness Education.

· The 46th annual Juried Student Art Exhibition in the Sauder Visual Arts Center. Hours in the Grace Albrecht Gallery are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Saturday, May 4

· May Day four-mile run/College Cabin walk, 8:30 a.m. start, Sommer Center. Registration begins at 7:45 a.m. Visit for registration information.

· Walk-through tours of the Sommer Center, 8:35-10:30 a.m. and 1-2:15 p.m.

· Alumni Choir sing, 9:15 a.m., Yoder Recital Hall

· Ministry teams reunion, 9:15 a.m., Bob’s Place, Marbeck Center. The 2012-13 Shining Through music ministry team will lead a worship service at 9:30 a.m.

· May Day ceremony, 11 a.m., Centennial Hall lawn. The ceremony celebrates the end of the academic year, the beginning of a new chapter for graduates and remembrance of times past for alumni. In addition to the Maypole dance, it includes the crowning of the May Day king and queen, recognition of graduating seniors and presentation of a 50-year class gift from the class of 1963. In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in Founders Hall.

· Class reunions,May Day buffet luncheon (The Commons, Marbeck Center, for class reunions through 1989) and box lunch (in a tent on the Centennial Hall lawn, for reunion classes from 1990-2012, plus 2013 graduates and their families and current students), noon. Tickets are required and are available online at or from 4-7 p.m. weekdays at the Sommer Center box office.

· Academic departments reception, 1 p.m., Burcky Gym

· Book signing by former head football coach Carlin Carpenter, author of “Coaching Football Ain’t Easy,” 1-3 p.m., Gallery Lounge, Marbeck Center

· Open house at Musselman Library, 1-5 p.m.

· Reunion of Spanish/TESOL alumni, 1:30 p.m., Kreider Room, Marbeck Center

· Music department honors recital, 2:30 p.m., Yoder Recital Hall. Music students who have achieved outstanding work in performance are selected by faculty to appear in the recital.

· Ultimate Frisbee, 4 p.m., Adams Bridge lawn

Sunday, May 5

· Baccalaureate ceremony, 10:30 a.m., Sommer Center. Dr. Gayle Trollinger, a professor of education, will give the baccalaureate address, “Walk humbly with your God.”

· Commencement, 2 p.m., Salzman Stadium. “Bending the Arc” will be the topic of Dr. J. Denny Weaver, the guest speaker and a professor emeritus of religion at Bluffton.

For a complete listing of May Day weekend events, and more information, visit