Photo by Sophia Cunliffe.
This past Wednesday, Apr. 19, marked the 27 annual observation of West Chester University’s famed Banana Day. The festivities lasted from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., split between the Academic and Residential Quads and Sykes Student Union. The long-awaited event included banana-centered games, snacks and challenges organized by the Student Activities Council (SAC) and co-sponsored by twenty-three campus clubs and organizations.
Although held on the official National Banana Day each year, West Chester’s version of the holiday has special significance. It was established in 1996 by WCU alumnus Rodolfo “Rudy” Tellez, who was the first to make the fruit’s symbolism in our corner of Pennsylvania so iconic. Tellez wanted to create a University-wide event that both celebrated school spirit while also serving as a de-stresser before the upcoming tumult of finals week. What started as a mere celebration of potassium has become an ever-expanding tradition and hallmark of our campus. This year, 20 cases of bananas were used for the day’s various treats and activities.
The most important Banana Day ritual is, of course, the quest for the highly coveted commemorative T-shirt. This year’s scramble for the sought-after souvenir was no exception — it seems everyone in the Borough was determined to get their hands on the hunter green Top Gun-themed shirt, which the SAC Instagram page had been teasing throughout the week prior.
However, this most vital Banana Day memento is not simply handed out — they must be earned. To do so, students competed in games like Banana Toss, Banana Basketball and Banana Chopstick Peel, climbed the Rec Center’s rock wall, and hunted around Sykes in search of six hidden golden bananas. The shirts did not last long: many students departed empty-handed after the limited supply had run out around 2:15 p.m. Rotten luck.
On the Academic Quad, Students for Sustainability educated their peers about the benefits of composting and provided a receptacle for everyone’s banana peels. Miss WCU could be seen walking around, as could many students (and even a dog!) in banana and monkey costumes. The afternoon was topped off with a spirited performance by the Top Drawer Swing Dance Team. Banana Day pins, in an overlap with the ongoing Fortnight of Festivities event, featured Shakespeare holding the fruit in place of Yorick’s skull.
Even more monkeying around occurred in the Residential Quad, where New Street Catering was serving up banana juice, banana chocolate chip muffins, frozen chocolate-covered bananas and banana pudding. A DJ provided the soundtrack while students took advantage of a photo booth with plenty of banana props. A pop-up thrift store had even set up shop in the University Hall multipurpose room, with all proceeds going toward the eventual creation of a permanent secondhand establishment on campus.
Meanwhile, the Sykes ballroom was ripe with lawn games like cornhole, ladder rope toss and jumbo Connect Four. In the first-floor lounge, students competed in Kahoot! trivia on all things banana. Outside, the Chilly Banana vegan ice cream truck had returned for another year of non dairy confectionery, and WCUR played all of students’ favorite tunes from the patio.
It is truly an honor to attend a college with such a unique tradition. My only complaint? Next Banana Day, all afternoon classes should be canceled so that students don’t need to peel away from the excitement so quickly.
Hannah “Banana” Linkowsky is a second-year Early Grades Prep major in the Honors College with minors in Spanish, Dance Performance, and Civic & Professional Leadership. She apologizes for the number of banana puns in this article. HL977843@wcupa.edu.