The annual celebration at Berry drew Gene Middleton and Margaret Middleton of Lilburn, who came to experience what will likely be their last Mountain Day since their son will be among those marching in the 2012 commencement ceremony.
“We’ve attended every one; we just love it,” Gene Middleton said Saturday. “It’s a great tradition.”
He said things like the barbecue and the festive atmosphere are among the reasons why he and his wife kept coming back year after year, if not first and foremost to spend time with their son.
“It’s like experiencing homecoming,” he said.
The 97th annual celebration of Berry College’s Mountain Day weekend wrapped up Saturday as students took part in the “Grand March” at the Mountain Campus.
Adjunct instructor and Roman Jonathan Huggins says Mountain Day is more of an experience.
“I think it’s ... like it’s often described as a ‘strange and wonderful thing,’” Huggins said of Mountain Day. “Most people don’t quite get it unless they’re insiders or go to Berry, people that do love it. That’s why people keep coming back every year.”
He said he also thought Mountain Day “binds the students together in a unique way and celebrates their unique story.”
To graduates like 2001 alum Haydne Chouhan of Mableton, coming back to Berry for the first time since graduation and seeing the changes around campus were just part of her Mountain Day experience.
“It’s good to get to see all your old friends,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to catch up with people that you don’t get to see besides this day. It’s just a good time for everybody, so it’s nice to get out and spend time with friends.”
Mountain Day has taken place annually since 1914 and is the celebration of Martha Berry’s birthday. Events this year include the Mountain Day Olympics, Golf Scramble, 5K Run and 2-Mile Health Walk, and a Convocation Service at Frost Chapel.
The college estimated that nearly 8,000 students, parents, faculty, staff and friends were on campus this weekend for the celebrations.