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Third West Wengatz’s Melon and Gourd tradition begins Monday

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream . . . of death. (Photograph provided by Jim Garringer)

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream . . . of death. (Photograph provided by Jim Garringer)

By Rayce Patterson | Echo

If you are out and about next week, do not be surprised to see one or two men carrying large pieces of produce with them.

Melon and Gourd is a longstanding tradition for Third West Wengatz (WWIII) and is an event that is looked forward to by residents with both nervousness and excitement.

“I love it,” junior and PA Will Schaufelberger said. “First of all, it’s an excuse to play a weird game with your best friends for a week, but also, it really unites the wing because we’re all kind of against each other, but at the the same time we’re suffering through it together.”

The event is basically a game of tag, where the two people who are ‘it’ have to carry around either a melon or a gourd. You can be tagged anywhere on campus, as long as you are outside of a building, or you can be tagged anywhere off campus. Participants are required to attend chapel during the week and they have to be on time. If you are the last one to have the melon or gourd on Friday, you have to take a bite out of it two weeks later at Oktoberfest, a WWIII pick-a-date. If you drop the melon or gourd while you possess it, or if you miss or are late to chapel, you also have to take a bite.

Melon and Gourd was created by two freshmen 25 years ago. The two had played a similar game growing up, so they brought it with them and the tradition stuck. A part of the tradition that has changed in recent years has been the entrance into chapel on Friday. At first, it was as simple as sneaking in, but it has become a much bigger deal.

“It’s become really, ‘What’s your entrance going to be?’ because it’s got to be big,” junior and PA Drew Lasley said.

The key to being successful at Melon and Gourd is not being fast or athletic, although those do help, but being smart and aware, according to Schaufelberger. WWIII residents will even memorize each other’s schedules in order to tag them easily. There have also been instances where they will go off campus to tag their wing mates while they are volunteering at Basics.

Freshman Ross Eckel will be on the lookout for the other freshmen on his wing this upcoming week because they are the people who will most likely know where he will be. He’s also aware of the danger upperclassmen present, and hopes to mix up his route to throw off the taggers.

“I’m just gonna try to be smart and keep my eyes out wherever I go,” Eckel, said.

The upperclassmen also plan who they will try and tag if they end up with the melon or gourd. Lasley and Schaufelberger have a common target in senior Nolan Sponseller, who was tagged once last year for the first time. When considering who he would like to avoid this week, Lasley said: “Me.”

Melon and Gourd has a Twitter account, @Melon_Gourd, where viewers can go to see pictures of the event. They can also follow #MandG2k17 to be updated throughout the week.  There will also be a custom Snapchat filter available Thursday and Friday of next week.

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