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Hoop rolling race at Wellesley College
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Wellesley College has held a hoop rolling race in spring before graduation since 1895. It was traditionally held on May Day and the winner was said to be the first to get married in the senior class. Now, the winner is promised to be the first to achieve self-defined success.
- Leanne Burden Seidel and Lisa Tuite
May 1, 1939: Seniors ran down Tupelo Lane during the hoop rolling race. The Wellesley Class of 1895 started the tradition with the understanding that the fastest hoop roller would become the first bride of the graduating class. In 1939, Ned Read president of the Harvard Lampoon, wearing a wig, disguised himself as a Wellesley coed and won the race. Once discovered, the Wellesley seniors pushed him into Lake Waban, starting another tradition which has continued for any male interlopers through the years.
Boston Globe Archive
May 1, 1940: Margie Hudson (left), President of the senior class at Wellesley College, presented the winner of the hoop rolling contest, Martha Attridge of Morristown, N.J., her "bridal bouquet" suggesting she will be the first class member to marry. The race was originally held on May Day, but the date of the race has changed over the years. Contestants often kept their mortar boards on with festive ribbons and other adornments.
Boston Globe Archive
May 2, 1959: One contestant, a married member of the class, pushed a baby carriage through the race in place of the traditional hoop. But the hoopsters took first place and the race was won by Amalya Kearse from Vauxhall, NJ. Amalya told reporters she had no plans for marriage and was going onto law school at the University of Michigan.
William Ryerson/Globe Staff
May 4, 1968: Barbara Evans, a history major from Bedford, N.Y. won the traditional bridal bouquet. "I'm not engaged," laughed the winner, "I have some ideas though." She attributed her win to the good spot her "sophomore sister" saved her right in front. Traditionally the sophomores rise as early as 5 a.m. to find good spots for their "senior big sisters."
John V. Connolly Jr./Globe Staff
April 27, 1974: Wellesley College seniors raced hoop and hoop down the lane. After the race, the seniors give their hoops to the sophomores. Some hoops are passed on for many years and bear the signatures of previous owners.
April 27, 1974: Four streakers, clad only in socks and sneakers and carrying their caps and gowns, raced across the finish line in the annual hoop race. The contest was not won by one of the streakers, but by Margaret Lahey of West Hartford, Conn. She said she was not anxious to be a bride right away. She planned a career in law or drama.