To be named a king or a queen during one’s tenure at Whitworth was once a big to-do, a hoped-for honor bestowed upon only a handful of students each year. These honors even made headlines in the social-calendar section of local newspapers.
Between the 1930s and early 1970s, four campus events in which Whitworthians could be crowned were the Snow Frolic, the May Festival, Homecoming, and the Green Derby. In an era in which the campus banned dancing, these events were among the most celebrated and anticipated.
From 1933 to 1936, the Green Derby was the social event of the spring, held around St. Patrick’s Day. Typically a fast, snappy show featuring a cabaret or a showboat format, the event was sponsored by student clubs and culminated in the selection of the Green Derby Queen.
The annual Snow Frolic began in 1948 and lasted into the early 1960s. Professors dismissed classes at 10 a.m., and students headed for the lodge at Mt. Spokane. By day’s end, a Snow Frolic King and Queen were crowned. The frolic was eventually moved to the weekend, but kings and queens reigned over winter fun for another 15 years.
The May Festival was popular in the 1950s. Extending back to virtually the beginning of the college’s history, this event centered on the selection of a queen and her court.
The Homecoming coronation, which also reached its height of popularity in the 1950s and ’60s, featured a Friday-night torchlight parade that wound through downtown Spokane. The queen and her court, escorted in convertibles, waved to the crowds and were followed by torchbearers, the school band and cheerleaders.
By the early 1970s, these elaborate activities were making way for other campus traditions. In 1972, amid changing social priorities, Homecoming no longer included traditional royalty. Naming a king and queen is often still a component of the football game’s halftime entertainment, but for the last several decades the occasion has celebrated residence-hall pride without the jewel-studded headwear.