Thursday, October 25, 2012
Tinker belles make trek up the mountain
The annual event is meant to be both a break for Hollins students and a way to build community.
Photos by Don Petersen | Special to The Roanoke Times
Hollins University students stop to enjoy the view and take pictures on their way back down Tinker Mountain. Tinker Day is declared as a surprise holiday for the students.
First-year student Elizabeth Reeves (center) leads her classmates in a dance skit as part of Tinker Day on Tinker Mountain. The day is filled with the hike and other activities.
A long-standing, and somewhat unusual, Hollins University tradition serves many purposes, but the one that's paramount is the bond it builds among students.
It's called Tinker Day.
For members of the Hollins community it evokes a strong sense of fun, community, tradition and even relaxation since it serves as a brief respite from school work.
On the Hollins campus it's practically a holiday and has been for more than 100 years since the tradition started in 1896. When it happens is unknown, but one fall day each year is always declared Tinker Day. This year it was Wednesday.
On Tinker Day, class is canceled and instead students trek up Tinker Mountain clad in the craziest clothes they can imagine. Once the harrowing, almost 3-mile uphill journey is complete, students feast on fried chicken and chocolate cake (aka Tinker cake), sing and perform skits full of laughter and inside jokes.
First-year students Elizabeth Reeves and Emily Meyers wore colorful outfits complete with wings for their first Tinker Day. Meyers had on a neon green leotard and explained she was dressed as Tinker Bell. (You can probably guess why.) Each woke up this morning to the sounds of older students banging pots and pans, which signaled today was the day.
"We've been anticipating this for a while," Reeves said. "It's time to finally be up here."
Meyers said climbing the mountain, looking silly and spending a day together simply brings everyone together, and gets them away from work for a while.
"It means a lot more than a hike," Meyers said. "It brings the community together."
Said Reeves: "We're all sisters."
Both Reeves and Meyers said they have a communications midterm tomorrow, but Tinker Day is a well deserved, and important, break.
"I think it's really good because we're all stressed out with school," Reeves said. "It's nice to take a day. We're all in this together."
Hollins President Nancy Gray is the only one to know when Tinker Day will be since she's the one to declare it. She joined the almost 300 students who climbed the mountain and described the day as "zany, sassy, fun."
"It's all about sisterhood. It's helping each other up the mountain," Gray said. "It's a celebration of community."
Though the climb is tough.
"It's steep terrain. The last part straight up can be brutal," Gray said, adding she was crawling up, but everyone helps one another.
For Jenna Milton, a fourth-year student at Hollins, that hike is her favorite part.
She was clad mostly in green, including neon green sunglasses, but her shoes were gold. She's worn the same metallic track shoes each Tinker Day, and the soles are now worn. This is her last Tinker day.
"It's really sad," she said.
Milton said she and her roommate have been the first ones up the mountain each year, but this year her roommate had to work. She's soaking in the fun for both of them and taking plenty of pictures.
"It's important because we all do it together. You get to the top together," she said. "It makes you feel part of a family."