Easter Monday at N.C. State
By Hank Utley & Dr. Gary Freeze
Read highlights from the Easter Monday Baseball Game from April 3, 1899 - April 2, 1956 by clicking here.
For most of the history of North Carolina, its citizens have taken two days to celebrate Easter. Unlike the extended weekend of current times, the traditional holiday started on Sunday and ended on Monday. For several centuries North Carolinians kept Monday as a day for recreation and contests, and from 1935 until 1987, Easter Monday was an official state holiday, with government offices, banks, and schools closed for the day. North Carolina State University had a central role in making Easter Monday official, for the activities on the State campus so engrossed the state legislature that it gave everyone it could the day off.
Easter Monday was truly the day of spring frolics for students, faculty, and staff at State, from the turn of the twentieth century to the decade after the Second World War. State students played hard ball and danced the night away for more than fifty years. For many students - including the women of Meredith, St. Mary´s, and Peace college - one of the highlights of the school year was the State-Wake game on Monday afternoon and the fable PKA Ball on Monday night. Those two events made for a full day away from classes and a chance to blend social and athletics enthusiasm. As one Raleigh resident observed, Easter Monday's game and dance in the spring rivaled Fair Week and the Carolina game in the fall, giving State a true celebration each equinox every year.
The time of both the game and the dance coincided with an era when trains more than cars got most North Carolinians around. The dance remained popular until the 1950s when the ready access to automobiles meant that college students could do what they wanted just about whenever they wanted. Until then, the ballgame was part of State's long heritage in the Southern Conference, the series ending when Wake was moved to Winston-Salem, about the time the Atlantic Coast Conference was founded. The holiday, incidentally, lingered across the state until 1987, when the state legislature switched to Good Friday, to accomodate the computerized needs of the state's growing banks.