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puddle jump 2017

A joyous tradition since 1975 happily leaves the question“Why?” unanswered

Story by Bates College January 26th, 2017

First things first

Before the 2017 edition of the Puddle Jump, held during Winter Carnival on Jan. 20, there was the torch run.

Starting in Greene at the Bates Outing Club lean-to (where longtime BOC supporter Judy Marden ’66 greeted the BOCers), the torch run arrived at Lake Andrews around 3 p.m.

With torch-bearer Audrey Puleio ’17 of Saco, Maine, in the lead, the runners rounded Lake Andrews before lighting the traditional Puddle Jump bonfire next to Page Hall, a blaze that has more than just an aesthetic purpose: It had to warm all the shivering and soaked jumpers.

Historical note 1: For many years, the Bates Winter Carnival torch was lit by the Maine governor, a tradition begun in 1958 when Bates alumnus Ed Muskie ’36 was in the Blaine House. That year, Muskie lit the torch in Augusta, and 18 students relayed it to campus.

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Maine Gov. John McKernan lights the Bates Winter Carnival torch in 1989.

And away we go

This year’s Puddle Jump was on a gray day (but mild: 36 degrees!), but student costumes offered a colorful counterpoint.

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Look before you leap

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Air time

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the scenic route

Number of paces from the Jump staging area along the shore of Lake Andrews to the hole in the ice: 50

Size of the hole in the Puddle: 12 feet by 12 feet

Thickness of the ice on the Puddle: 7 1/2 inches

Number of paces from the hole to the bonfire outside Page Hall: 106

From the staging area at left, jumpers head to the hole in Lake Andrews and then to the bonfire at top.

The First Jump

Historical Note 2: The Puddle Jump, founded in 1975, was for many years a St. Patrick’s Day tradition. The impetus for the first dip was “exuberance at the end of a hard winter,” said Chris Callahan ’78, one of the founders.

In 1975, Puddle Jump founders Mark Stevens ’77, Scott Copeland ’78, Chris Callahan ’78, and Lars Llorente ’78 get ready for the first dip.

Let's get a move on

Check out these video clips from the 2017 Puddle Jump.


The Cold TRuth

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Frozen smile

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Dynamic duos

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shock and awe

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Warmth in Numbers

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Footnote: Produced by the Bates Communications Office with photography and video by Josh Kuckens, Phyllis Graber Jensen, and Jay Burns.