South twists Sadie Hawkins’ tradition

Sadie Pelini, Staff writer

It’s October again and for South students that means more than just Halloween. It’s Sadie Hawkins’. It’s that time of year when the girls work on their best moves and boys wait patiently to be asked for their hand in square dancing. The Sadie Hawkins’ dance is one of South High’s most anticipated traditions, so where did it come from?

It all started on November 15th, 1937 with a comic strip written by Al Capp. Capp wrote a strip called “Li’l Abner,” and on that fateful day in November, Capp penned a story about Hekzebiah Hawkins and his laughable scheme to get his daughter, Sadie, out of his house. Hekzebiah was afraid Sadie would never marry and live at home for the rest of her life, so he created a race in which all the unmarried women would chase the unmarried men out of their town, Dogpatch.

If a woman happened to catch one of the men, they would be married. The idea was so popular amongst fans that Sadie Hawkins’ Day became an annual event, in both “Li’l Abner” and the entire country.

South has participated in the Sadie Hawkins’ tradition for many years and the excitement has never changed. Each year, girls find a boy they want to be accompanied by and think of a creative way to ask him. “It’s the most stressful part of the year,” said junior Annie Pudvah, adding, “You have to time it right and be creative.”

Pudvah asked her date, junior Miles Westrich, by decorating his locker. Other methods have been handmade cards, cakes, signs, or personalized singing telegrams. Freshmen Hazel Bryan asked her date, fellow freshmen Alexander Smith, with a sandwich that had several layers, each of which had a letter on it that collectively spelled out “S-A-D-I-E-S-?” Bryan said she went through nearly a dozen possibilities before deciding to ask Smith, and declared the entire process “nerve wracking.”

After finding dates, the couples work together to create matching outfits. For most of the country, Sadie’s is a formal dance, and the intensity of the matching will rarely expand farther then a tie or a corsage, but for South students, it tends to go deeper.

Outfits can range from matching plaid shirts and match sets, such as nerds or pirates, to more elaborate costumes like Popeye and Olive Oyl or Cinderella and Prince Charming.

The dance is held at Bunker Park Stables in Andover, Minnesota, where it has been held since 2004. The bus ride out to Bunker Park is roughly an hour long, and provides the perfect atmosphere for getting to know your date.

After arriving at Bunker Park, students can choose from a variety of activities such as taking hay rides through the woods, sitting by the bonfire, square dancing, or just plain socializing. This year, several new events have been added, such as three-legged races, potato sack races, and costume contests, which had been held at the dance in the past.

“When I was looking at the dance from someone else’s perspective…it got boring,” said senior Will Lee. He and senior Asiyah Aziz are social event co-chairs for South High’s chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS), which organizes the dance. Lee said he hopes the new additions will make the dance more exciting and worth the school’s money.

Another aspect of the dance that adds excitement is the presence of sheriffs, a group of seniors set on breaking couples up. Couples are asked to hold hands for the entirety of the dance, and the sheriffs are assigned the task of separating them. If a couple drops hands, a sheriff can send them to “jail,” a picnic table in the middle of the dance. As punishment for being caught, the couple must stand on the table and kiss for an amount of time set by the sheriffs.

“Honestly, I kinda like it when people tackle me and having to go to the table. It’s exciting!” said junior Mary Gibbons, who is attending the dance with junior Adam El Hmamsi.

Lee, who will be a sheriff at this year’s dance, said that being a sheriff is fun because “You get to run around and control if people are having fun or not.” Lee added, “It makes you feel like you’re in that higher, upper, senior status.” Sheriffs are selected mainly through NHS, but the opportunity is also available if you are the date of another sheriff.

Although Sadie’s is a highly popular event among students, there are a few issues regarding the dance. “You just gotta choose the right person,” said junior Carley Hammers, “and I just didn’t.” Hammers has not attended the dance since freshmen year and is not planning on going this year. She is one of the many students to choose a date whose company they discovered they disliked, and for those students it can often take the fun out of the dance.

There are some dates, however, that fail before even entering the dance. Senior Sammi Hantous says that he would rather be the one asking because, “It’s hard to say no, so it’s nice to have the choice [of whom to go with].” It is also common for one or both sides of the date to cancel on each other after discovering they do not want to go with one another after all. This has happened from as soon as the start of school, to as late as the day before the dance.

Sadie’s can also be an awkward time for those without dates, especially the boys waiting to be asked. “It’s kind of a pain to have to wait,” said senior Will Anthony, who does have a date to the dance. Boys who were not asked to the dance are less likely to attend without a date than girls without a date, who will often attend in groups with other single ladies.

Because of reported problems with alcohol at the dance during previous years, there will be breathalyzer tests for any student that the administration suspects of using alcohol before getting on the bus.

“We’re doing it at all the dances,” said Steve Simondet, an assistant principal for South. “Unfortunately it’s standard procedure now. But we found from homecoming [which happened earlier this month] that because kids knew and the expectations were clear, kids did a really nice job.” It has yet to be determined whether or not these tests will take  place during the dance as well.

“[I’m most excited for] seeing everyone’s outfits! That’s my favorite part,” said Pudvah. Senior John Ulrich, on the other hand, said that he was most excited for the three-legged race. Regardless of what part you are excited for, the Sadie Hawkins’ dance is an interesting alternative to normal school dances, making it one of the most popular dances of the year.