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Five Fun Facts about Mason Day

Picking just one singular long-standing tradition at George Mason University is hard, but Mason Day usually comes out on top. The first Mason Day took place four years before the university’s first Commencement, and it’s been the event to look forward to ever since. Few things in Mason’s history have so consistently united the campus community.

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Students party during Mason Day Moonlight Party with DJ Sean Falco in Lot L. Photo by Craig Bisacre/Creative Services

  1. It came from a University of Virginia tradition. In 1965, as a branch campus of UVA, George Mason College celebrated its first Founders Day (Thomas Jefferson’s birthday) on April 13. Yet the college couldn’t resist honoring George Mason on the very next day, April 14. Just a few years later, the college skipped TJ’s birthday altogether and celebrated only Mason Day on Friday of that week.
  2. It was a nonstop party in the 1970s. During the 1970s, Mason Day moved away from soft drinks and informal speeches and became a mini-Woodstock, where bands played into the night and the beer flowed swiftly. By the late 1970s, there was a push to include Thursday night, and though this was never official, students could be found camping out the night before. Classes ended at 2 p.m. on Mason Day because the campus was quite small and everything was within earshot of the festivities.
  3. Say bye-bye to the beer trucks. In 1987, Virginia raised the drinking age to 21. By 1988, beer was no longer served on Mason Day, but the bands played on and attendance grew.
  4. Taking this party to the parking lots. In the 2000s, the festivities moved to Lot L on the Fairfax Campus to better accommodate the crowds. Soon, the music was joined by amusement park rides and food trucks.
  5. The bands! The selection of the musical groups has always been up to the student committee running the day. The bands that have visited serve as markers for the time, including The Ventures, Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers, Slickee Boy, Oingo Boingo, Gavin McGraw, Violent Femmes, The Black Eyed Peas, and My Chemical Romance, to name a few.