Skip to main content

Parades and Celebrations

Unidentified player "Graham."

Unidentified player "Graham."

At one o'clock, the two cadet corps formed in the vicinity of the Patrick Henry Hotel (each being first in alternate years) and paraded out Jefferson Street to the "Splinter Bowl" (Maher Field, the old Fair Grounds), passing by cheering spectators. The two corps paraded onto the gridiron and passed proudly in review before the governor of Virginia and his party in the reviewing stand. After passing in review, each corps went into a mass formation before the grandstand, sang its fight song, cheered its opponent and its own college, and filed off to its reserved section in the stands, alternating sides each year. Upon being seated, the cadets and their bands exploded vociferously. Entry of the opposing teams onto the field ignited an eruption of wild exhortation. With the flip of a coin, the teams faced each other in the arena.

The play of the game was a pandemonic event. Organized cheering was in vogue in those days, and the all-male cheerleaders goaded their charges into continuous bedlam. Halftime produced an extravaganza of ingenuity and creativity on the field as each corps performed. The game usually ended in a victory to celebrate for one side and a loss to commiserate for the other. The contest's end brought the victors a highly elated parade and the losers a relatively quiet march back to corps headquarters--the Patrick Henry Hotel for V.P.I. and Hotel Roanoke for V.M.I.

In any event, parties were always in order, and at that point hospitality engulfed the city, V.P.I. and V.M.I. cadets mixed freely, and there seemed to be no strangers anywhere.

V.P.I. and V.M.I. senior cadets had become good friends at the six-week R.O.T.C. camps during the preceding summer, and the two classes held an annual banquet at one of the local dining places, alternating as hosts. These events would feature short speeches, group singing, and college yells; along with a fine dinner, menu cards, souveniers, and grand camaraderie.

The evenings presented large, rather formal dances in the downtown area at the ballrooms of the Patrick Henry Hotel, Hotel Roanoke, the Elks Club, and the City Auditorium, in addition to many smaller, informal parties and dances throughout the city. The governor and his party, along with city officials, the staff and faculty of the two colleges, the cadets with their young ladies, and many guests and alumni danced to fine music by excellent orchestras. At the City Auditorium, the dancing would be interrupted at 10:30 P.M., and members of the victorious team were called forward onto the stage for a brief congratulatory speech by the governor, who presented the city's silver loving cup to the team captain.