Macalester Birthday: Founding Day, Push Ball Dismay, Bands Play


Photo courtesy of Elisa Hsieh, ’26

Lucy Diaz and Justine Ballard

This past Friday, March 3, Macalester hosted the annual Founding Day celebration, sponsored by the Program Board (PB). This year, the college celebrated its 149th anniversary with a variety of festivities, including the traditional games of pushball, a concert and dinner in Cafe Mac. 

Unlike previous years, this Cafe Mac dinner, which was open to all students holding a Macalester ID, did not hold the same formality. In the past, the dinner was dubbed the “Founder’s Day Gala” and included a bar where 21+ students could mingle with faculty and staff in a more relaxed environment, as well as an anniversary cake. 

The concert and pushball tournament, however, were quite well-attended, especially the concert, where students came out in support of friends who performed in the show. Pushball, however, took a more chaotic turn. 

The schedule for the pushball “tournament” ran as follows: game #1 featured the first-years and juniors, followed by game #2 with the sophomores and seniors. Finally, the third game pitted the victors of the first two against one another. 

Pushball, which has historically been played on Founding Day, is a game in which each team attempts to push a giant inflatable ball towards the other team’s goal. Whichever team scores the most goals in a 15-minute period is declared the winner. Despite the game being an annual tradition, it was still the first game of pushball for many people. 

“This is my senior year at Macalester, but it is the first time I ever participated in pushball,” Eleanor Grinnell ’23 wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly. “I knew nothing about pushball before coming to Macalester! It was a fun surprise to learn about some of the campus traditions after becoming a student here.”

There is a severe lack of knowledge regarding the nature of pushball, one that first-years experience the most. 

“I feel like [when I was] a first year, people didn’t really understand what it was about,” Noah Riccardi ’25* said. “It seemed like they were thinking that [there was a] squirrel pushing the ball and like magically floating above everyone, and then they’re not prepared to need really good shoes to have traction on the snow.”

This pushball tournament took an unfortunate turn with the pushball itself popping twice during the whole ordeal and drawing the second game between seniors and sophomores to an abrupt and early close. 

“They decided that because the seniors were ahead, once they had to call it that the seniors won that game,” Raina Tenenbaum ’25 said. 

Alas, since the pushballs seemed to be popping left and right, some of the spectators were less than enthused. 

“Macalester pushball always sounds like it will be an enjoyable experience, but instead I found it to be a disappointing waste of my life force,” Julia Hanson ’24 said. 

Still, despite the fact that pushball was less than a successful endeavor this year, students still find the funky Macalester tradition to be memorable and unique. 

“It’s one of those things that, like, it’s unique to Macalester,” Tenenbaum said. “I’m only gonna get four chances in my entire life to play pushball, because it doesn’t exist anywhere else.” 

The evening promised more excitement and celebration, with a concert held in the Loch. 

Pulling from the pool of musical talent present at Mac, three different student organizations took the stage. With time slots of about 15 minutes each, each group made the most of their time. 

First to perform was the Groove Group with a lineup of three different songs. The first, performed by Julia Dworkin ’25, was “Dirty Dog” by Electric Red. Involving a call-and-response, Dworkin started the concert off with a bang.

Groove Group then presented a rock band, playing two different well-known rock songs: “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse and “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. Even when the string of the guitar snapped between songs and the band lost a member, leaving three people on stage, the energy remained high.

Next, the Mac Pep Band took to the stage, performing a wide range of songs from “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga to “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” by Fall Out Boy.

“We have a pretty large repertoire that we can choose from, which is great because it allows us some flexibility!” Grinnell, the principal trombone for the band, wrote. “For example, we were planning to play “Seven Nation Army at the event, which is a classic tune for pep bands, but we discovered that the Groove Group was going to perform that song right before us!” 

“Because of that, we quickly switched to playing Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” which is one of my personal favorites to play,” Grinnell continued.

After having warmed up to Pep Band, Mac Swing quickly took the stage, performing a 10-minute dance highlighting the style of West Coast Swing for the audience. 


Reflecting on playing in the Loch, Pep Band member David Geeganage ’23 mentioned how nice it was to play for an audience and not simply as a part of the normal Pep Band performance spot of football and basketball games.

“It was very different from what we usually do, performing in the gym or in the stadium,” Geeganage said. “I think it worked out pretty well, though. It was cool to have a direct audience, rather than just accompanying another event.”

Overall, Founding Day seemed to be a success, and with Macalester’s 150th anniversary celebration next year, those planning will need to work hard to top this year’s revelry.


*Noah Riccardi is the sports editor for The Mac Weekly.