The most bizarre things you can find at 10 colleges and universities

Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images‘Untitled (Lamp/Bear)’ on the campus of Brown University.
  • Some college campuses feature unusual sculptures and wacky traditions.
  • Brown University’s campus features a 23-foot sculpture of a blue teddy bear combined with a lamp shade.
  • At MIT, students mark the last day to drop a class by dropping a piano off the roof of a building.
  • A plaque at the University of Pennsylvania commemorates President Gerald Ford getting stuck in an elevator.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Colleges and universities all have their own storied histories and cultures – and tastes in art. Some campuses take their traditions more seriously than others, hosting delightfully bizarre events and displaying puzzling sculptures.

Here are 10 unusual things you can find on campuses across the US.

Murray State University’s campus features a tree covered in shoes.

Courtesy of Murray State UniversityThe Shoe Tree in the fall of 2018.

On MSU’s campus in Murray, Kentucky, couples who meet at the university hang their shoes on the beloved Shoe Tree. They often write their anniversaries on the soles and add baby shoes when they start a family. According to MSU, the tradition is believed to have started around 1965.

A plaque at the University of Pennsylvania commemorates a day in 1984 when former President Gerald Ford got stuck in an elevator there.

University of Pennsylvania/FlickrA plaque at Penn’s Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Centre.

September 19 is a special holiday at Penn. In 1984, former President Gerald Ford got stuck in an elevator for eight minutes at the university’s Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Centre. “Gerald Ford Stuck in an Elevator Day” is now celebrated by “getting on an elevator, taking it to your destination, then disembarking uneventfully” and marked with a plaque outside the elevator where the original incident transpired.

A giant statue of the University of Maryland’s mascot, Testudo the Turtle, is said to bring good luck to those who rub its nose.

Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesThe statue of Testudo at the University of Maryland.

The 300-pound copper statue of Testudo has graced the campus of the University of Maryland for over 80 years, according to WUSA 9. Rubbing the statue’s nose is supposed to bring good luck. Before exams, students also leave Testudo offerings of food as good luck charms.

At MIT, students mark the last day to drop a class by dropping a piano off the roof of a building.

Brian Snyder BS/ReutersDrop Day at MIT.

The Baker House Piano Drop is a 47-year-old ritual at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1972, students at Baker House were deciding what to do with an old broken piano that had been collecting dust in the residence hall. They decided to drop it off the roof of the building, and a tradition was born.

The annual event was moved to every spring semester’s Drop Day, the deadline for dropping a class. The non-functioning pianos are often filled with confetti or candy, and t-shirts reading “Just Drop It” are sold for charity.

Brown University’s campus features a 23-foot sculpture of a blue teddy bear combined with a lamp shade.

Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesPeople walk by ‘Untitled (Lamp/Bear)’ at Brown University.

“Untitled (Lamp/Bear)” by artist Urs Fischer was installed on Brown’s campus in 2016. Not everyone was a fan, but the statue has come to be known as “Blueno.”

Two buried cannons poke out of the dirt on Princeton University’s campus.

Terryfic3D/iStockThe Big Cannon at Princeton.

There are two cannons buried in the grounds of Princeton University’s campus.

“The Big Cannon” dates back to the Revolutionary War and was also used during the War of 1812. It was buried behind Nassau Hall in 1840 and has sunk about four feet into the ground since then.

“The Little Cannon” was stolen by Rutgers students in 1875 in what became known as the “Cannon War.” It was returned after the president of each university intervened.

Students at Rutgers climb the brick walls surrounding Queens Gate to avoid walking through it before they graduate.

Courtesy of Alex HamiltonA Rutgers graduate safely walks through Queens Gate.

Legend has it that if you walk through Old Queens gate while you’re still a student at Rutgers, you won’t graduate. According to a student-written handbook, people often climb the surrounding walls or walk to another nearby gate to remain free of its supposed curse. The graduating class then walks through the gate on Commencement Day.

Yale and Princeton have similar superstitious gates on their campuses.

UC Davis’ “Egghead” sculptures were installed on campus in 1991.

David A. Litman/ShutterstockAn Egghead.

The “Egghead” sculptures at UC Davis were created by a professor, Robert Arneson. There are five bronze sculptures with different facial expressions spread out across campus, some tucked away in hard-to-find corners.

The “Big Sub” event at Barnard College involves a sandwich stretching 750 feet across campus.

Jonathan King for Barnard CollegeBig Sub at Barnard.

Every year, Barnard’s dining services prepare a sandwich big enough to feed the entire student body in an event known as “Big Sub.” The sandwich contains 320 pounds of turkey, 175 pounds of ham, and 120 pounds of chicken salad, plus vegan and kosher options. It takes two days to make and about 15 minutes for Barnard students to consume.

Cornell University hosts an annual “Dragon Day.”

Jason Koski/Cornell UniversityDragon Day 2019 at Cornell.

On Dragon Day, architecture students create an enormous dragon and march it to the Arts Quad, where it faces off against a phoenix created by engineering students.

Dragon Day at Cornell is over 100 years old. It began as a celebratory College of Architecture Day in 1901 and has evolved into one of the university’s most famous traditions.

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