Sun. May 26th, 2024

Image: op-ed banana 1

Banana Day is a staple of West Chester University tradition. And why wouldn’t it be? Upon examining the day in its totality, it has all the facets of an event that would appeal to young adults stranded within southeast Pennsylvania. It is an event whose subject is not related to any part of our originally-established campus identity, mascot or region of Pennsylvania, but is instead filled to the brim with fun, themed t-shirts and a surplus of a previously-unassuming fruit. Are bananas in any way integral to West Chester or southeast Pennsylvania, or heck, even Pennsylvania as a whole? No! Definitively — but, it has spunk! It’s the story of an underdog (bananas) coming out on top (students clamoring for bananas in a frenzy). It’s zany and wacky (you can’t take this campus anywhere), and now a beloved feature of the campus community. So, it’s worth looking back and seeing the trajectory of Banana Day: from just one guy distributing bananas to his fellow classmates, to the campus-wide event it has become.  

Starting back in 1996, then-senior Rodolfo P. Tellez had the idea: he successfully handed out 3,000 bananas and logged more than 50 community service hours. However, post-Banana Day’s first iteration, the complexity of and tenderness with which the event was handled only continued to grow. The oldest article from The Quad recounting Banana Day was an issue that was published on April 13, 1999 and featured a photograph of a student, passerby or just a pure banana enthusiast wearing a puffy banana suit — and I only mention the puffiness because of how voluminous, full-length and balloon-like this past costume is in comparison to the more knee-length costumes we see today. How banana fashion has changed! Nevertheless, disregarding the ever-fascinating evolving topic of banana fashions, I primarily point this out to demonstrate that, from the get-go, students were incredibly on board with celebrating student resilience through the art and spirit of bananas! Perhaps we all feel quite underdog-ish during finals week, beaten down and hopeless; in this way, we are quite similar to bananas — never anyone’s first choice, and never having real relevance beyond middle-schoolers introduction to “edgy” comedy and creative sex-ed programs. However, on this one fateful day, bananas are the star of the show! Never have more bananas been consumed on a college campus than on the historical, magical day that is Banana Day. Much like bananas, those down-trodden little things, students will too have their day in the sun (or clouds, but it’s heroic nonetheless).

Now sure, that’s all speculation. I don’t claim to be in bananas’ mindspace, but it’s something to ponder, to question. But what isn’t speculation is the intensity with which students try to procure a coveted Banana Day t-shirt. In an article published in 2014, Clare Haggerty, then-News Editor, documents how the mere 1,000 available Banana Day shirts, available to the winners of various games including trivia and ninja, created the competitive atmosphere WCU students are all too familiar with today. We all know what it’s like for this competitive spirit to wake us up in the middle of night in a cold sweat, when we remember how we are not in possession of a t-shirt that’s printed with an image of anthropomorphized bananas masquerading as celebrities, pop culture icons or similarly beloved characters. In 2014, the bananas were The Beatles on the cover of their “Abbey Road” album, and this year it was either the same or different bananas (as I am unsure what the career lifespan is for said banana models) dressed as the Scooby-Doo Gang. I was unable to procure a t-shirt this time around, as I had class, depressingly enough. Last year I was able to snag one of the “Top Gun” styled t-shirts, for which I know the slimmest amount of peace. 

Banana Day at WCU has continued to evolve throughout the years from the Banana Day Proclamation of 1999 with its unique t-shirt styles and banana treats, but it is clear that the love is as steady and fervent as it was in 1996. 


Alexis Stakem is a second-year English major with a minor in Social Work Concepts.

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