Ah, adventure. I could smell it in the cool night air as I walked back to my room in Waring Commons. For tonight was the night of the Natty Boh hunt, a slang term which stands for National Bohemian beer.
The beer is sometimes jokingly referred to as the campus flower. It was a moniker that would be lived up to tonight, as dozens of seniors were in the process of hiding hundreds or thousands of beer cans across campus – in bushes, on the ground, in trees, on second-story ledges.
Word on the street was that we didn’t start until midnight so that the seniors would have enough time to hide the cans of beer. That’s why it came as little surprise when a senior driving by in a car shouted out my name and then jovially threatened me with a baton for searching for cans too early.
This Natty Boh hunt is serious business.
It wasn’t even close to 11pm, but the campus seemed to be humming with anticipation. I met a group of seven or eight seniors who had been hiding beers and walked with them to their townhouse.
“The Natty Boh hunt is a hell of a lot more fun when you’re hiding them,” said Dan Combs.
Paul Parzynski said he had been climbing and hiding beer cans up high, though he stressed that it wasn’t all about alcohol.
“It’s all about getting in the spirit,” said Parzynski. “I mean alcohol helps. But we’re just hanging out with people… doin’ crazy stuff, doin’ things we’re not supposed to do, doin’ things we don’t care about getting written up for cause it’s [expletive] Easter!”
Tyler Contarino said that the holiday wasn’t the same for him now that he no longer drank. “For me it doesn’t mean as much,” he said. “But I’m for it, as long as people are careful, smart, don’t do anything stupid.”
I decided to venture out and find some Boh hunters. It was barely past 11:30pm, but already the campus was buzzing as little groups of people started exploring. I wondered if encouraging underage drinking like this was a good thing. Some students come to college with little drinking experience, yet a desire to overindulge in alcohol; it’s a combination that doesn’t usually lead to productive experiences.
Jessy Morgan and her friends agreed that the Natty Boh hunt was less about drinking, more about the hunting of the wild Boh. We then came upon a beer can placed atop a corner of Anne Arundel, about 20 feet straight up. Then we began discussing how best to take it down – whether we needed a Nerf bazooka or a grappling hook. It was a team-building exercise, someone said.
“We went up to the stoop of Public Safety to see if the myth of the 24 case was there, but no,” said Ben Carver.
Carver had made a suit of armor and matching hammer entirely out of empty boxes of Natty Boh. “This is the best Easter I’ve ever spent. It’s been a fantastic night in true St. Mary’s spirit.”
Heading home, I realized that I had not found a single can of Natty Boh. But it really didn’t matter because of the sense of adventure and companionship I had had with the people I had met on the path. I feel like that’s true St. Mary’s Spirit.