February 29, 2012 10:35:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- The rain may have silenced the band, but the party didn't slow down.
Mississippi State University celebrated the 134th birthday of the school on Tuesday with food, drinks, music, giveaways and a four foot tall cowbell cake in the Junction.
Local band Big Poppa Strang, sponsored by the Campus Activities Board and Music Maker Productions, played about half an hour before a steady drizzle forced them to shut down.
The threat of rain had been on organizers' minds for much of the week. And with so many entities involved -- MSU Alumni Association, dining services and numerous volunteers -- rain threatened to move the event indoors.
"We talked with our folks here at the MSU meteorology department," said Jimmy Abraham, associate vice president for development and alumni and executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. "We felt like we'd give it a shot, because we didn't think it'd come in too bad until this afternoon. We still have a great crowd out here."
The sixth annual party brought a few firsts and showed organizers that the event continues to grow.
In previous years, a maroon and white cake was standard. In fact, it was the extent of the celebration.
But each year, different elements have been added. Coca-Cola had a vending booth and gave away free T-shirts, while MSU's State Fountain bakery supplied ice cream, cupcakes and the mammoth cowbell cake, which made its birthday party debut.
"Angel Jennings at State Fountain put about 50 hours into that cake," said Andrew Bechard, director of operations at MSU dining services. "From the initial baking sheet cake, putting it together, getting it over here and final assembly. It's pretty incredible."
The event celebrates the state legislature's creation of the university on Feb. 28, 1878. Abraham said the university's first class had 354 male students in 1880.
"There's no way they would have known what was going to take place 134 years later on campus," Abraham said. "With the largest enrollment in the state, great athletic programs and outstanding leadership, the university is growing and prospering. We just need to celebrate its past and future."
As much as the university has grown, both in enrollment and engineering and agricultural research, many of today's students aren't aware of MSU's rich history. Abraham believes having the birthday party encourages students to embrace and preserve the school's heritage.
"Even though it's overcast and raining, there's still a lot of people out here getting good food and drinks ... celebrating Mississippi State's birthday," said Sam Krusee, a senior architecture major. "I think it gets people to think about it, to think about the history of it and where we came from. It's good to see people gathered together. Hail State."
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