(Excerpted from James F. Willis, Southern Arkansas University: The Mulerider School’s Centennial History, 1909-2009, p. 312 )
At [Assistant Dean of Students J. B.] Courson’s suggestion, the [residence hall] association began two new events that became among the most popular and long lasting of school traditions. The first one was the annual Bed Race that began on November 7, 1981, for fall semester parents’ day. Each residence hall entered the contest on East Lane Street with a “bed,” a platform on top of four bicycle tires ridden by a reclining student wearing a football helmet for protection in case the bed collapsed or careened off course as team members pushed it along at breakneck speed. Races proved both exciting and hilarious.
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The second new tradition was the annual celebration of lights that began in 1984 as a Christmas display to enhance the school’s seventy-fifth-year celebration. A tree in front of Overstreet and lights everywhere marked the year. Displays grew larger over the years, and in 1988, the physical plant strung more lights along the Bell Tower’s sides, turning it into SAU’s holiday candle. Later in the early 1990s, Magnolia’s annual Christmas parade traveled from Main Street north on Jackson Street to Overstreet Hall where town and gown joined in festivities, including a special meal for all in the campus cafeteria.