While they may struggle with telling the true Apple Day story, just about anyone associated with Pittsburg State University knows something about the oldest campus tradition, which began in 1907. Pitt State will celebrate another Apple Day on Thursday, March 3, with a convocation and other events, including an apple dessert contest, during the week.
Randy Roberts, PSU archivist, said the Apple Day tradition had its genesis in a 1907 appropriation from the Kansas Legislature to build Russ Hall, the young school's first permanent building.
"After that legislation passed, a number of the senators and representatives in a good natured way fined Clarence Price, the mayor Pittsburg -- and they kind of threw Russ S. Russ into the picture as well - they fined them a barrel of apples for having been on the legislative floor during debates and they were not supposed to be there," Roberts said. "When Russell S. Russ and Clarence Price returned to Pittsburg, there was a huge celebration here. The students really got involved and the community got involved. It was a great celebration and they decided to celebrate the event again the next year in 1908. That's what started the tradition of having a commemoration day that we know as Apple Day and it has been celebrated since."
The central part of the Apple Day celebration is an all-school convocation, which this year takes place at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, in McCray Recital Hall. At that event, members of the Faculty Association will distribute free apples, a task they have performed for most of the Apple Day history. The keynote speaker for the convocation will be PSU alumnus Dr. Roy Jensen, director of the University of Kansas Medical Center Cancer Center. Also at the convocation two alumni with its Ralf Thomas Distinguished Service Awards. Those honorees are local physician Dr. Kathleen Sandness and Kansas Deputy Commissioner of Education Dale Dennis. The Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations will host a public reception for Sandness and Dennis at 2 p.m. in the Wilkinson Alumni Center.
Other events associated with Apple Day include an apple dessert contest, which will be judged at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 2, in the Overman Student Center.
Roberts said it is important to keep the Apple Day tradition alive and to retell the Apple Day story.
"Apple Day is an important part of Pittsburg State University's rich and colorful history," Roberts said. "Retelling the Apple Day story is a reminder for each new generation of the efforts of many people to found and nurture an institution of higher learning in our corner of the state. We are here today because of what they and generations of others who came after them did."
©2011 Pittsburg State University