It more or less started as any other day. For lunch, a group of us from the lab went to Collegetown. After eating, we starting the trek back up to campus and came across an ... unusual group of people.
A not-so-typical day at Cornell.
The crowd surrounding them was massive. And then I saw it. Following not so far behind, his head bobbing up and down, his large tail swinging side to side, a large blue-green dragon, at least three times my height!
A dragon approaches!
The people flanking its sides were screaming and occassionally he stopped to lift his head as if to roar at the gathering crowd.
Closer and closer he comes!
As he passed by, I got a better look. It was impressive. He has big gazing eyes, hundreds of scales and an orange underbelly. Fearsome as he looked from afar, up close I realized he had only two teeth -- but they were big ones!
A truly massive and beautiful beast.
At first, I was taken by such surprise by his presence, I stood still as stone as he passed me by. Fortunately, his movements were highly predictable and I managed to cut him off on his way past the clocktower and into the Arts Quad. The size of the crowd was increasing now and I could tell that something big was about to happen. My eyes remained fixed on the dragon as he proceeded in my direction at an ever quickening pace.
He passes the clocktower.
Closer he came, until finally he abruptly halted. Then he lifted his head up into the air and let forth several powerful screams.
He belts forth a few final roars...
Meanwhile, those who led him to this very spot, started to put into position a highly unusual structure made of wood and fencing. At the very tip was a sharpened point and they slowly brought it down, sinking it into his neck.
...before coming face to face with his destruction.
He was never able to recover. For a few brief moments, he suffered. He attempted to lift his head once again, perhaps to counterattack, but nothing came of it. The wooden structure was far too heavy. It was clear that his time had come. At this point, several people in the vicinity, dressed in armor with capes and large swords, took a few hacks at his neck, ensuring that it was comletely severed. Then others swarmed around the body, mutilating it and stuffing flammable objects in between his scales and under his belly. Shortly afterwards, what must have been their "leader" held a burning stick high into the air, causing roars from the crowd. For several minutes already they had been chanting slogans such as "LET HIM BURN!" and "FLAMES! FLAMES!" The atmosphere was indescribable. I felt as though things were about get out of control, if they hadn't already! At this point, the leader touched the torch down onto the corpse and the flames immediately spread.
His neck severed, those who led him here now set fire to his carcass.
Seconds later I felt the heat generated from the dancing flames. As the fire reached the body, loud crackling noises could be heard and the flames leapt higher than at any other time. The crowd retreated, surprised and frightened as debris flew into the air.
At some points, the flames were quite fierocious!
Several moments later, the fire still crackling, the majority of the corpse had been burned. Several oddly dressed paraders were skipping around the body, apparently overcome by what they considered an orgasmic experience.
Even dragons are no match for wild, raving Cornellian undergraduates.
And so went another "Dragon Day", or so it's apparently called in these parts. As for the exact meaning of the ceremony, I am still uncertain. But it happens every year before spring break. As I pieced together fragments of information I had overheard during the ritual, it was carried out by either the architects or the engineers on campus -- or maybe both. I put my money on the architects -- I always knew they were crazy.