The Grand March
There were actually two grand marches, one that
occurred every October on Mountain Day and one
that occurred every Sunday morning.
In 1966 I had just arrived at Berry on a Greyhound bus on a cool September Saturday as a
puny, timid 15 year-old and this was my first Mountain Day, which was and still is observed on
the first Saturday of October to commemorate Martha Berry's birthday. (Her actual birthday
was October 7, 1866.) The hopeful fantasy in every Academy student's heart was to get paired
up with a really good looking college girl in the Grand March. I can truthfully say that my
fantasy was never realized. I had the unfortunate luck to hold hands with Phyllis Diller on the
right and Rosie O'Donnell on the left every year I was at Berry. So much for the wishful
romantic dreams of youth!

For the uninitiated, the Mountain Day tradition is rooted in a 1912 picnic that Martha Berry
hosted for the students and to this day it remains as one of Berry's oldest, if not THE oldest,
traditions. The Grand March, which takes place after dinner on the grounds, is described this
"Students, led by the seniors, join hands, separate, and unite in ever widening lines as they
weave a march pattern on the gentle slope at the foot of Lavendar Mountain. During the
march, students drop donations into the birthday basket, traditionally the number of cents
equal to the student's age. During Miss Berry's lifetime she stood to receive the small
donations for the school in a gift basket. Today, these donations become a part of the Martha
Berry Memorial Endowment Fund, established by Miss Berry with gifts made to her to aid The
Berry Schools. A colorful part of the tradition is the costume worn - for the women, a pastel
pink (blue if a senior) dress or skirt and blouse; for the men, a lighter blue shirt (white if a
senior) and dark trousers." 1

1 Courtesy of the Berry College website.
The weekly Grand March involved the high school students, lined up in pairs and
marching down the hill from Hamrick Hall and up the hill along the winding pathway to
Frost Chapel for Sunday worship services. Led by the American and Christian flags, the
Sunday morning march was a popular sight to behold for visitors, faculty, staff, parents
and any other worshipers attending the service. Many would stand outside of Frost
Chapel to observe the procession. The view of the long march, with the grandeur of the
campus as a backdrop, made the weekly march an inspirational event for those in
attendance. The choir, in their brightly colored robes, also lined the walkway at the top
of the chapel hill adding to the colorful splendor of the occasion.
The Grand March


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