The Hope College Pull tug-of-war, a 109-year tradition, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. on the banks of the Black River (near U.S. 31 and M-21).
The public is invited. Admission is free.
The Pull, first held in 1898, is an annual fall highlight at Hope. In the competition, freshman and sophomore teams, entrenched in shallow pits on opposite sides of the river, attempt to gain the most rope through their strength and stamina.
Each team has 18 students on the rope as "pullers" and another 18 acting as guides and morale boosters, or "moralers." The freshmen are coached by the junior class while the sophomores are instructed by the seniors. The coaching arrangement also leads to a rivalry between the even-year and odd-year classes.
This year's Pull will pit members of the Classes of 2009 (sophomores) and 2010 (freshmen) against one another. The Class of '09 will be seeking to avenge its loss at the hands of the Class of '08 during last year's Pull, held on Saturday, Sept. 24.
In 1977, the Pull set a record for length and uniqueness. The freshmen and sophomores tugged for three hours and 51 minutes before judges called a tie due to darkness. In contrast, the shortest Pull lasted two minutes and 40 seconds in 1956.
New rules were implemented in 1978, following the 1977 marathon, limiting the event's duration. The rules now allow the judges to determine the winning class by measuring the amount of rope pulled from the other team if one team has not claimed all of the rope within three hours.
The 2005 Pull ended with such a decision, with the sophomores winning by 20 feet, one inch.
Through the years, the sophomores and even-year classes have held the edge in the win-loss column. Since 1909, the sophomores have taken 60 contests to the freshman class's 29; the even-year/odd-year split for the same period is 53 to 36.
There have been four draws and four cancellations since 1909.
The Pull will culminate an active day in the life of the college. Saturday, Sept. 23, is also the 41st annual Hope/Holland Community Day, which is scheduled in celebration of the long-standing relationship between Holland residents and the faculty, students and staff of Hope College. Community Day will feature a picnic on the Van Raalte Commons in the central campus from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the sights of Windmill Island and a home football game with Wheaton College of Illinois at 1 p.m. at Holland Municipal Stadium. Tickets for Community Day, which include the picnic, football game and admission to Windmill Island, cost $7 for regular admission and $4 for children age five to 11, which admission free for children under five. Advance tickets for Community Day may be purchased at the college's DeVos Fieldhouse, located facing Fairbanks Avenue between Ninth and 11th streets, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.