The march culminated almost two months of planning by Senior Marcus Meier, who'd been working with the help of Scott Stano '02 and Brian Odlaug '02 of the SJH. Meier went to the committee planning Senior Week and asked if they needed an organizer, since St. Olaf does not sponsor alcohol-related events. "I'm excited to be part of something that's been part of tradition as long as anyone can remember."
"I wish we could do this every Saturday," said Maria Schweigert '02, marching down the middle of the street.
About a block and a half down the street, SGA President Nick Wallace '02 tripped over Vice President Jaclyn Patrignani '02, Meier, who had control of the bullhorn exclaimed, "The President's down! The President's down!" He sustained a mere scrape on his right hand.
Pip Gengenbach '02 and Liz Daniel '02 were enlisted to carry glowing batons, wear reflective vests, and help direct the people traffic down Linden Street, and then Second Street. The officer who had escorted the group downtown called out, "Enjoy yourselves," to which a chorus of girls responded, "We will!"
Once the parade of seniors hit Division Street there were people watching from the sidewalks, and a round of "Um Ya Ya" broke out.
"Tonight all the beer in town will sure meet its fate," sang Wallace.
At the door to the Rueb, two lines were formed and people readied their IDs and ten-dollar bills. The $10 cover covered food, the bus home, the bands, and the drink specials. Meier fronted all the money for the day, since this year SAC did not provide funds, and hoped to "break even by tonight."
House music was playing upstairs as people piled their coats in the back and got in line for the bathroom, buffalo wings, or booze.
Drink prices ran from $4 64-ounce pitchers of Busch Light to $2.25 for frozen margaritas. Rueb owner Joe "Grundy" Grunhoefer said "we do the drink specials and cheap, cheap pitchers to thank them for the patronage over the last four years."
Grunhoefer has been involved with the Rueb for 13 years, and estimates that the march has ended there for "probably 18 to 20 years now."
The staff for the day was doubled to help things run smoothly. "In the past we've never really had any major problems," Grunhoefer said. "St. Olaf students in general are really good kids."
The party was in full swing within minutes. Many people had pre-partied, and were feeling really good, if not completely coherent.
"The only way to understand this," said Sarah Priest '02, "is to get plowed along with us."
"I'm kind of embarrassed for all of us here," admitted Daniel. And it was only 5:00.
Some seniors became philosophic about their time: Amy Stanley '02 held up her cup and said, "College is like beer." "At first you chug it, and it goes past fast," helped Katie Gambach '02. "Yes," agreed Stanley, "but then you realize that it's better enjoyed slowly."
Greg Stanis said of his years at St. Olaf, "Chicken soup and moo cows. I know it's intangible, but... it's the greatest part of my life."
Others preferred not to comment. "It's just a matter of I don't want to think about what 100 days means," said Nick Shaw as he sipped his beer from a pitcher. "This isn't like high school, where you're wondering how these people will turn out, it's like [this] is already who they are, and that's the coolest part."
"This is [the] time to make new friends for 100 more days," said Kristina Anderson '02. "I already made two!"
"I was afraid that when I arrived at the Rueb I would find a drunken orgy," said Zach Miller '02. "And that's just what I found. Alleluia."
By 6:40 p.m. the once-vacant dance floor was packed when DJ Eli started Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Forty minutes later The Meds, a band from Minneapolis recommended to Meier by bartender Andy Sandburg, began the theme from Star Wars and pumped out some throbbing guitar rhythms.
Most people enjoyed the live music, but tended to crowd in the pool room rather than by the bar because it was so loud. About mid-set they aptly played The Beatles' "Come Together."
"It's totally cool to see everyone coming together," said Elizabeth McDonald '02, "since we're all in different loops and now we're crossing [paths]."
Jeff Flugum '02 echoed her sentiment: "It's scary to see it end but at the same time fun to watch everyone come together. There's so many I don't know ... We've just got to party like rock stars."
Nate Miller and The Silence played from 9:30 to 11:00 p.m., but things really got crazy when DJ Jeff Eidem took over. The dance floor was packed with people - even when the sound went out half an hour later, everybody just stayed put until Meier and company could figure out how to reconnect sound to the speakers.
"Ike just jumped up and played again...he was at the drums and [a bandmate] picked up a bass," said Meier.
"That dancing part was the best," said Patrignani.
"It was the definitive party of senior year," said Scott Stano. "Or at least one of them. It was an opportunity to have a good time, a safe time, without worrying about being busted or keeping it on the down low. So people just cut loose."
Approximately 408 people attended the 100 day blowout. "My expectations were totally exceeded," said Meier. "That people came even for an hour, just to be together, was awesome. I had people talking to me that I never thought would."
"Even arch nemeses," agreed Stano, "were like, 'Hey.' And I'm all, 'You're not going to hit me, are you?' "
"I will never drink again," said Brian Odlaug the next afternoon. "I quit smoking, too." Kelly Hotzler '02 simply advised, "Don't wear nice shoes."