Chautauqua Institution President Tom Becker’s job at the final Sacred Song Service of the season is to present a closing speech and tap the gavel three times. Jared Jacobsen’s job is to create the “jewelry setting” for that symbolic closing.
On Tuesday evening, hundreds gathered in the Amphitheater to celebrate Chautauqua’s 140th birthday. From the Drooping of the Lilies to the three-fold roll call, Chautauquans embraced the many traditions that are Old First Night.
They had all assembled for a single purpose: to ring in another Chautauquan milestone with a gallop around the grounds. Nearly 900 men, women and children gathered in front of Sports Club to celebrate Chautauqua’s 140th birthday with the Old First Night Run/Walk.
There’s a reason some traditions stick around.
The Chautauqua Community Band will put on its portion of today’s Old First Night celebration at 12:15 p.m. today on Bestor Plaza, or in the Amphitheater if weather is an issue.
The Daily met up with Annika Borg-Sundstrom and Helen Himebaugh to talk about Quidditch, Elvis and one special night for Chautauquans.
“The Old First Night race is one of three or four events that, over the last 20 or 30 years, has become one of the key elements of Chautauqua,” said Paul Ritacco, a longtime Chautauquan. “It embodies what this place is all about: tradition, especially family tradition.”
Before the 3-year-old members of Children’s School marched out to perform traditional folk songs for their parents, they sat restlessly listening to a story read by their counselor.
“Successful nonprofits are dominated by committed volunteers,” said Geof Follansbee, CEO of the Chautauqua Foundation, on Aug. 15 at the annual Volunteer Recognition Reception honoring both Chautauqua Fund and planned giving volunteers.
You may have noticed an unusual amount of traffic on the streets of Chautauqua Saturday morning. You may also have noticed that the traffic was of the pedestrian variety, with some folks appearing to be in quite a hurry.
The Old First Night Run/Walk/Swim is an annual tradition marking the birthday of our fair Institution. Runners, walkers and swimmers traverse land and sea (pool) for a chance to be a part of this tradition and score the coveted OFN T-shirt. [w/ SLIDESHOW]