On Jan. 26 Bates College continued its tradition of jumping into the depths of Lake Andrews, affectionately known as “the puddle” to Batesies. The puddle, home to ducks, diseases and miscellaneous projectiles, opens its waters each year to all those brave enough to take a dip. Puddle Jump marks the peak of Winter Carnival, a tradition almost a century old at Bates and one of the oldest of its kind.
But why celebrate what it is to be a Bates student by jumping into a freezing body of water? Aren’t there better/ more comfortable ways to celebrate identity? Perhaps since the puddle is central to the college, perhaps because not everyone chooses to bear the Maine winter like Bates students, and perhaps because it’s just fun and we’re in college. The Bates Student went off to investigate.
To make the puddle jump even more over the top, students exchange their winter clothes for flashy, DIY costumes and sometimes, they wear nothing. “I can’t express how warm I am not being in the water,” commented Morgan Baxter ‘20 as he watched the first students jump into the puddle. When asked what the best mode of clothing to wear for the occasion, Baxter replied, “Birthday suit is the move. Wet clothing is what keeps you cold.”
“We’re individually doing it because it’s our first year at Bates and it’s a tradition” said Amelia Brown ‘21 and Teagan Ladner ‘21. All class years participate, making the Puddle Jump the social event of the year, second only to Fall’s ‘80s dance.
Sophomores, Anne Trapp ‘20 and Christie Fatica ‘20 also took a dip into the puddle. For Trapp, jumping into the puddle is, “More like bragging rights.” For Trapp, the main thing going through jumpers is “A lot of adrenaline,” but she conceded, “It’s not cold as you think it will be.” Her companion, Fatica, admitted, “I want to cry.”
“We’re all dressed as pink, cozy grandmas” said Justin Hoden ‘18, Bridget Nolan ‘18, Sadie Homeier ‘18, Chloe Oslin ‘18 in unison.
“We’re all seniors, I have never done it before,” said Nolan. “Neither have I” added Homeier. “So it’s sort of tradition” finished Bridget. “I did it freshman year, so full circle” added Hoden before the “pink, cozy grandmas” filed into the long, daunting line trailing the puddle.
Emma Martinez ‘21 said she was participating this year because,”It’s a huge part of the Bates experience, not only that, but it’s experiencing something new and I think that’s really exciting.” Her friend Willky Joseph ‘20 responded, “I was forced.”
“I don’t want to jump in. But you know, it’s just going to happen,” joked Sofie Sogaard ‘20. “Last year I jumped in twice. It was a good time. The second time was obviously pretty rough, but the first time was fun.” Sogaard then abruptly blurted out, “Are those people riding their bikes into the puddle?”
After students jumped into the puddle, a blazing pyre of wooden logs awaited them along with hot chocolate and warm showers. Reactions of the first jumpers varied widely from “Cold” (Matt Morris ‘18) to “It was really awesome” (Zeke Smith ‘19). However, Chris Dsida ‘18 put it best when he said, “It’s just as cold as freshman year.”
So why has the Puddle Jump become a rite of passage at Bates? After thinking long and hard about this absurd occasion, only one answer comes to mind. There is no better way to embody the creative, innovative, brilliant student body at Bates College than to take a leap into freezing depths of Lake Andrews along close friends and classmates.