As night fell over campus in the winter of 2001, Dory Lerew, alumna and current admissions employee, was making her way down to Victory Park with her friends and her sled of choice, a Baldwin dinner tray.
It has been nine years since Lerew was a student here, but she still keeps two trays in the backseat of her car that were given to her by one of her friends from college.
“She lives quite a ways away, and I work on campus, so she decided that I would get more use out of them,” Lerew said. “They’re the best things to go sledding on.”
Sliding down the hill on a tray — known as “traying” — has been a long standing tradition in Albion, but with recent efforts by the dining hall to reduce the number of trays used, students and staff are wondering if this winter ritual will fade into a thing of the past.
“I have seven trays,” said Brittany Craft, Attica, Ind., senior. “Traying is my favorite thing to do in the winter, and I’d be really sad to see it not continue for classes in the future.”
Though “traying” interests many students in and of itself, in some cases, the task of getting the trays out of Baldwin has seemed more fun than actually sledding on them.
“We were laughing so hard one dinner when a buddy of mine decided to stuff a couple of trays onto the back of his coat and limp out bent over like he had a hunchback,” said Kurtis McMahan, alumnus and admissions counselor. “He was able to take the trays, but he ended up breaking his wrist when he fell trying to snowboard on one.”
Despite the appeal of “traying,” a shortage of trays has never been a serious issue for the dining hall, according to Ken Snyder, director of campus safety, who said he has never had to reprimand a student for taking one.
“I’ve been at Albion for 23 years and noticed that students’ sledding on those trays has become a rite of passage,” Snyder said. “Most of the time students are usually good about taking them back themselves anyways.”
It was not until the dining hall cut the number of trays in an effort to promote sustainability that a shortage affected the student body. With a limited number of trays available, students have now found it hard to acquire their sled substitute to participate in the long standing tradition of “traying.”
“My friends and I have talked all winter about going sledding down Victory Park but have found it hard to actually find trays to do it since they are so scarce now at Baldwin,” said Claire Sorensen, Bloomfield junior. “I guess I have to start making friends with people who have trays on campus before we can make that trip.”
Regardless of whether Baldwin will eventually decide to remove all of its trays, many feel that simply sledding with friends at the park is what has generated so much appeal over the years.
“There is always room for new traditions, and I’m sure (Victory Park) will still see its fair share of students,” Craft said. “Sledding in general at the park has a lot of history and is something that will never die out.”