CAMBRIDGE — Temperatures hovered just above 13 degrees, but Christopher Rivers was decked out for Saturday’s Hasty Pudding parade in a blue miniskirt and glittery sheer top, the hairs on his bare legs standing at attention.
“It’s mind over matter. When the wind isn’t actively blowing, it’s actually OK, but every now and then a breeze comes along,” said Rivers, a member of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals tech crew. Despite pleas from friends, Rivers kept the pants he had been wearing underneath his costume earlier that day stuffed deep in a jacket pocket.
“It’s a matter of aesthetics, and I’ll do anything for the bit,” Rivers said.
The costume, borrowed from a previous year’s show, was part of the tradition of Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Club’s annual parade, which this year honored Jennifer Coolidge as the 73rd Woman of the Year for her contributions to the entertainment industry, including, most recently, her Emmy-winning performance on HBO series “The White Lotus.” Past winners of the award, which began in 1951, have included Meryl Streep, Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, and Anne Hathaway.
Bob Odenkirk, 60, the Emmy-winning actor, producer, and writer, was honored Thursday night as Hasty Pudding’s Man of the Year.
Students, alumni, and ardent Coolidge fans braved the cold Saturday afternoon, with hundreds lining either side of Massachusetts Avenue for a chance to glimpse the “Legally Blonde” actress among the musicians and cheerleaders. The parade, timed to celebrate the opening weekend of one month of Hasty Pudding Theatricals performances, is followed every year by a celebratory dinner and comedic roast in the evening, culminating in the presentation of the Pudding Pot trophy.
Near Harvard Square, three Harvard Graduate School of Design students stood in the sun, perching on a rocky ledge to see above the crowd and dancing to keep warm.
“She’s just iconic in so many performances,” said Celeste Martore, who explained it was the group’s first Hasty Pudding Parade.
In this weather, she said, “we would only come for Jennifer.”
“It’s freezing, but I have to see what Jennifer Coolidge is wearing,” added Kevin Ledee, an architecture student. “My guess is a giant fur coat and enough eyeliner to insulate her eyes [from the cold].”
The prediction was spot on. Coolidge rolled through the crowd in a leopard print fur coat and fuzzy pink hat to cheers of “We love you, Jennifer!” and hundreds of raised phones and cameras eagerly snapping pictures. Smiling and waving, Coolidge even reached out to hold the hand of one particularly enthusiastic fan.
“I love her, I’m obsessed with her, and I’m so honored that she would touch my hand!” screamed a beaming Carisma Wong, cheeks flushed from the cold.
A freshman at Harvard College, Wong said had recently fallen in love with Coolidge after watching “Legally Blonde” for the first time on the library steps at a college movie night last year, and called their brief moment of contact “so full circle.”
“It’s kind of crazy... for weeks everyone’s been talking about it,” Wong said. Though she wasn’t able to get tickets for the roast, she said, “I think this is the best thing that [could have] happened.”
Ivy Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @itsivyscott.