Lander University’s first Eat ’n Play day in 2018 occurred on Feb. 12, the 146th anniversary of the school’s founding.
And in the true spirit of that founding, there weren’t any speeches or ceremonies – but plenty of candy, games, twisty balloons and blue-and-yellow icing cupcakes.
Dozens of students participated in ladder golf, beanbag tosses, and signed a huge banner proclaiming Happy Birthday Lander University.
Junior Absalom Richardson took the honor of breaking open a Bearcat piñata containing 600 pieces of candy – after seven other students had taken their best shot.
“It was the hardest piñata I’ve ever tried to break,” said junior special-education major Adrianna Ray. “But Eat ’n Play was a fun way to get involved.”
The fact that it occurred on the school’s birthday was, well, just icing on the cupcakes.
“We have these Eat ’n Play events several times during the school year,” said Scott Lotze, assistant director of Campus Recreation. “It just so happened that we picked the day pf the school’s founding for this one.”
Co-organizer Jill Franklin, assistant director of Student Activities and director of Fraternity & Sorority Life, added, “We wanted the students to recognize the school’s history and have fun.”
Part of the history is that the Lander student body is now almost 100 times larger than when the school began in Anderson County, S.C., on Feb. 12, 1872.
On that day, the school opened as Williamston Female College with a total of 33 students.
The first campus was on the site of the original Williamston Springs Hotel – now the site of the Municipal Center in Williamston, S.C.
The first Founder’s Day address came in 1905, one year after school officials relocated the school to Greenwood and renamed it Lander College in honor of its founder, Rev. Samuel Lander.
Over the next 50 years, different traditions and celebrations took shape – such as the annual sweetheart ball and bringing spring water from Williamston to Lander by running it to campus from the Dixie restaurant.
Franklin and Lotze said that as the celebration of Eat ’n Play evolves, they hope to see a return to these traditions – and grow some more along the way.
“We hope to create bigger and better celebrations in the future,” Franklin said, “that will incorporate the old traditions that have taken place in years past.”