May Day Celebrations (1907) & (1916)

May Day
“May Day Festival on Campus.” Courtesy of The Midwestern, Vol. 1, no. 2, 1907.

The first May Day celebration at Highland Park College took place in 1900. It resembled modern day prom in many respects. Faculty was in charge of different aspects of the celebration while the student body elected a king, queen and court members. Additional activities included such things as shooting bow and arrows, tug of war, shot put, disc, running races. The students often carried the celebrations well into the night. In one instance, the students took over the streetcars and didn’t allow anyone else on them well into the night.

President Longwell said of the first event (his daughter Helen was the first May queen so it might account for his gushing praise here): “The royal procession, the crowing of the king and queen and the dancing around the May pole on the green before their royal highnesses was spectacular and beautiful in the extreme (Longwell, pg. 107).”

May Day tradition continued each year until 1918. The following year the college was sold to the Baptists who discontinued this event.

The Piper yearbook, 1916.


  • Longwell, Oliver H., A.M., Ph.D. Autobiography. Introduction by James R. Hanna, A.M., LL.D. Des Moines, Iowa: The Highland Publishing Company, 1919, pp. 106-07.
  • “May Day Festival on Campus, Highland Park College.” Miller, James Clarkson. “Great American School, Highland Park College of Des Moines, A.” The Midwestern 1, no. 2. Des Moines, Iowa: Greater Des Moines Publishing Company, 1907, pp. 85-97
  • The Piper. Des Moines, Iowa: Students of Highland Park College, 1916.
  • The Tiger. Des Moines, Iowa: Students of Des Moines College, 1920.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s