On Thursday, Sept. 29, Lees-McRae students, faculty and staff celebrated the longtime Lees-McRae tradition of Mountain Day.
Celebrated each year on a sunny day in September, Mountain Day begins at 11 a.m. when the bells of the North Carolina Building ring across campus, alerting the campus community of the suspension of classes and work to celebrate the glorious mountains that we call home.
This year’s celebration was unique with the campus community gathering in front of Virginia Residence Hall for a special tree planting ceremony and comments from Lees-McRae President Dr. David W. Bushman.
Last April, a wind storm toppled the beautiful tree in front of Virginia Residence Hall, the same day several students and faculty lost their lives at Virginia Tech. On this Mountain Day, a tree was planted on Lees-McRae’s campus in the place of the downed tree in memory of and dedicated to the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting.
Before the dedication of the tree, President Bushman educated students, staff and faculty on the tradition of Mountain Day. He read from Margaret Tufts Neal’s book, And Set Aglow a Sacred Flame the following passage:
Along with, and even above the cultural and practical side of education, was the founder’s desire to make life a fuller and more enjoyable experience for everyone. He, himself, never lost his zest for mountain climbing, for trout fishing, or the simple wonder of the beauty and bounty of the mountains, and he tried always to inspire in the young this appreciation for the world around them. He encouraged picnics and parties and from his own love of mountain climbing grew an annual custom – Mountain Day – when the whole school climbed Beech Mountain. To make this more exciting, no one knew just when this day would come. As the skies grew bluer and the air crisper there would be a whisper like a rustle in the October leaves, “Maybe it’s today.” In spite of anticipation there was always an element of surprise when at the daily chapel service, Mr. Tufts, after his usual devotional, announced: “I think this would be a good-day to go to Beech.”
Instead of climbing Beech like the students of the olden days, this year, Mountain Day was celebrated at the Banner Elk Town Park with hamburgers, hotdogs, fellowship and friendly games of volleyball and kickball.
“Mountain Day is always a fun day for the college community to join together and celebrate the majestic mountains we live in and the wonderful weather September brings to the High Country. The tradition of Mountain Day is more than 100 years old and one of many that Lees-McRae’s founder, The Rev. Edgar Tufts, that are still celebrated today,” said Meghan Wright, Communications Officer.