The College’s Easter tradition comes at a time when the weather is gorgeous and students must battle the decision between going to class and enjoying the outdoors. On Apr. 3, while most underclassmen spent their Saturday at the waterfront, seniors could be found spray-painting hundreds of National Bohemian beer cans outside their townhouses. Walking by the Greens, you might witness dozens of seniors mingling on their back patios, barbequing and taking turns spraying rows upon rows of beer cans. This activity was in preparation for the “Natty Boh Hunt,” a long-standing tradition where seniors paint and hide beer cans for the underclassmen to find on Easter. There is only one rule: do not hunt until it is actually Easter. Once it is midnight, all beers are fair game.
The “hunt” is no conventional backyard Easter egg event. It is an adventure that takes St. Mary’s students to the most ordinary and inaccessible places on campus. The seniors hide beers everywhere from bushes and benches to hallways and window ledges. It is not surprising to pass students atop the bell tower or the rafters outside Kent Hall around three or four in the morning. In contrast, many students are pleasantly surprised when they find Natty Boh cans in their classrooms or along the path Monday morning.
For seniors, the Natty Boh Hunt is often more than just a wild night of beer drinking and hiding. To senior Kelly Bartholomew, “it’s an event for seniors to be creative and celebrate their impending graduation.” Kelly most enjoys “the bonding experience with the other seniors,” noting “it’s a tradition that perpetuates itself, but you only get to paint and hide the beers once.” It is only fitting for the seniors to hide the beers, as they have spent the most number of years on campus and know the best hiding places. The night before Easter thus marks one last time the seniors can partake in and pass down a time-honored St. Mary’s tradition.
Underclassmen experiences this year proved that hunting for free beers could be just as thrilling as the experience of hiding them. Walking the path around 1 a.m., one could hear large groups of students shouting out orders for how to reach a beer up in a tree. Several freshmen knew about the tradition from the St. Mary’s Wikipedia page, while most were unaware of the Natty Boh Hunt until it happened. Dirk Rousseau enjoyed the feeling of being “seven years old again and looking for Easter eggs,” however this time it involved “digging and tree climbing.”
For some, the odd hiding places make this tradition a full-blown challenge. Seniors have to be creative and “make the students work for the Boh,” says Kelly, while the underclassmen must find ways to find them. In some cases this takes a great amount of planning and several people. Playful competition aside, underclassmen Logan Riley feels that the Boh Hunt is a great tradition “because it brings the campus community closer together.” It is not unusual for groups of friends to exchange stories, tips, and strategies throughout the Hunt.
Whether it is free beer or fond memories with friends, St. Mary’s students come away from the Natty Boh Hunt each year with a renewed sense of pride in their school’s traditions. Kelly Bartholomew explained, “Since it involves the rest of campus, it speaks a great deal about the St. Mary’s spirit– we are giving, creative and know how to have a good time!” Fellow senior Lydia Jani commented, “It’s one of St. Mary’s many quirky traditions that make it how it is and give the college it’s character.”