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.
- 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.