Most Wake Foresters are familiar with the major autumn traditions on campus – Hit the Bricks, the Homecoming bonfire, and Project Pumpkin. These events take place every year, and each is closely connected with the seasonal spirit. While these traditions are cherished, some new activities are gaining traction, bringing a combination of fun and service to a new generation of Demon Deacons.
“There’s a tradition for everyone at Wake Forest,” says Nikki Villanueva (‘14). “It’s really about finding a healthy balance between the young and the old; the fun and the service-oriented.”
An offshoot of the childhood game tag, Humans vs. Zombies came to Wake Forest in 2011.
“It’s an event that welcomes the entire Wake Forest community in a night of fright and fun,” said John Walsh (’14). “It feels great to put the laptop to sleep for an hour or two and run around the library.”
During the events in the fall and spring semesters, the library extends its hours to become the battleground between humans with Nerf dart blasters and zombies, armed only with their outstretched arms. Just as you’d expect, zombies touch human players to turn them into the walking dead. The game ends when there is only one human left for the zombies to “eat.”
“This time we had the drama department come in to apply zombie makeup,” said Director of Access Services Mary Beth Lock. “It made the game even more fun and little bit more eerie when you were surrounded by zombies.” Lock said about 125 students came out for the fun, nearly two dozen more than last time. Even ZSR’s Dean Lynn Sutton got into the spirit, donning a little zombie makeup.
“I don’t want to give away too much about the event,” said Ryan Coll (‘14), “but it certainly lives up to its name.”
The Unpredictable began in 2009, and is rapidly gaining a following. This year, more than 75 two-person teams participated in a race/scavenger hunt sponsored by Campus Recreation and Residence Life and Housing. It’s like ‘The Amazing Race’ meets Halloween. Teams test their mental and physical strength at challenges that bring them to stations all over campus. Challenges include everything from the stressful – finding two matching tennis balls on a court chock full of them – to the disgusting – jumping into murky, sulfur-ridden water while singing a love song. But this isn’t just an ordinary race – everyone who runs is dressed in costumes.
“It rewards having fun in the moment and not just necessarily finishing first,” said Matt Imboden, who helped create the event as a Residence Life & Housing staffer. “Plus, it is just a lot of healthy and stress-free fun, and that is important too.”
Wake Forest traditions aren’t just fun and games. “Rake Forest”, now in its third year, is about as Pro Humanitate as they come. Residence Life and Housing staff members Matt Imboden and Ashley Jones developed the idea as a chance to exercise “Pro Humanitate at home.”
“We see Rake Forest as an important accompaniment to the popular international and domestic travel service trips,” said Imboden.
Wake Foresters give up a Saturday to clean yards and rake leaves for the elderly or disabled who are physically unable to perform these tasks. The WFU Facilities and Campus Services department lends its rakes for the event each year. Participants cover neighborhoods near campus like Faculty Drive, Rosedale Circle, Crepe Myrtle Circle, Macon Drive, Harmon Drive, Waycross Drive and Friendship Circle. What seems like a menial chore is actually a meaningful gesture.
Residence Life & Housing hopes Rake Forest continues to grow so even more impact can be made in the surrounding community. Jones said she already considers Rake Forest to be a big success because so many positive connections have been made between the campus and surrounding community.
This year’s Rake Forest will be held Saturday, Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. as volunteers meet on Davis Field for project assignments and then fan out into their designated neighborhoods. A volunteer signup form helps both individuals and student groups plan for this autumn tradition.
While the impact these new traditions have on campus life is growing with each passing year, they fit into the framework of existing autumn traditions. And when the calendar page turns to a new season, they pave the way for winter traditions. Lighting of the Quad and Lovefeast both draw students and community members for their beautiful sights and significant meaning. Each new season brings forth a combination of old memories and new innovations in the traditions of Wake Forest.