Pajama Parade

Photograph of the 1915 students who marched in the Pajama Parade. This photograph belonged to Irene McCall Baldwin, '18.

In the spring of 1914, members of the Inter-fraternity council donned in their pajamas, paraded through town around midnight.  The reason?  A free movie at the Bohm Theater, then located at 106 W. Porter Ave.  This event began a tradition that lasted a over a decade.  We know of no photo of the first event, but thanks to a recent donation of Irene McCall Baldwin’s photographs, we now have a copy of the 1915 group of students.  Prior to this donation, it was assumed the tradition began shortly after WWI, but now we have evidence that it began when George Bohm opened his first theater in Albion.

The students began on the athletic field, and paraded down East Erie Street to the local theater, owned by George Bohm.  Bohm’s first theater was located at 106 West Porter until 1917, when he acquired the Censor Theater at 223 E. Superior Street.  The Bohm Theater most of us know today was not purchased by Bohm until 1929.  Although the event began as an inter-fraternity event, it quickly grew to encompass all male students.

Photograph of Pajama Parade participants, 1923. The band in front accompanied the movie.

An article of the May 10, 1922 edition of the Pleiad, disucced that year’s event (See Pleiad Pajama Parade 5-10-1922 to read the full article):

After a meeting at Robinson hall about 11 p.m., the “night hawks” first paraded to the home of Dean Robert Williams where the Dean, aroused from his slumbers, managed to say a few works of greeting.  Thence, off to howl around the domicile of their “Prexy” John W. Laird, who also sent them on their way with a short “pajama” address.  From President Emeritus Samuel Dickie, who usually “hits the hay” around 8 p.m., the men got but a few sleepy words of salutation from his chamber window.

After the movie, the students held a huge bonfire near the river, where the students joined in college song and yells.  The night ended around 2:30 a.m.

The last photograph we have of the event is from 1925.  It’s not known how long the event continued, but it certainly provides a fun look at student life in the 1910s-1920s.

Do you know more about the Pajama Parades?  Please leave your comments below!

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