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Klondike Rush

As legend has it, the Klondike Rush began in 1936 when Rufus Klon and Prudentia Dike were walking down to Otter Creek and Prudentia fell.  While on the bank of the creek, she spotted a gold object in the bed and shouted “Gold, gold!”  Students could hear her screaming from campus and they “rushed” to Otter Creek.  They then started socializing as they searched for gold.  Because of the festive atmosphere that resulted, Klon and Dike did the same thing the next year, and so began the Klondike Rush.  Whether or not this is how this tradition actually began, this story has been used to describe the origins of the event for many years.


Kaleidoscope- Sesquicentennial


The Klondike Rush was an informal dance at the high school’s gymnasium and was the last event of the Winter Carnival.  It has been rumored that the admission price to the Klondike Rush was originally determined by how tall people were, where attendees would be charged five cents per foot of height.   There are several stories associated with the Klondike Rush like this one, which contribute to the festive and entertaining mood of the event.  In addition, students would wear winter attire, such as ski jackets, sweaters, and ski pants, but they were prohibited from wearing ski boots on the gym floor.  As a result, most people who attended the Klondike Rush danced in their socks.  In order to add to the skiing atmosphere of the event, the walls of the gymnasium were covered with ski posters from colleges and other winter clubs and resorts.  The Klondike Rush was the complete opposite of the formal ball that took place the night before.  Skiers and other students would come together at this informal, relaxing dance, which was appreciated by the athletes after a long weekend of difficult and grueling competition.


The Campus- 1939


Each Klondike Rush would begin with the carnival king and queen leading a grand march into the gymnasium, followed by the co-chairmen of the carnival and their subjects.  Once the event actually began, attendees would participate in various types of dances with the music being played by a live band or orchestra.  Then, the carnival king and queen would award prizes to individuals and teams who won the winter sports events at that year’s carnival.  Additionally, thank you speeches were given to the various committees that were responsible for organizing the Winter Carnival.


Winter Carnival Program- 1952


The New York Herald Tribune called the Klondike Rush a “free-for-all” because of its high level of enthusiasm and energy, and that is why the Klondike Rush was known as the climax of the weekend.  Even though the Klondike Rush no longer exists today, it was one of the most anticipated events of the year at Middlebury.


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