Ditch Day Chronicles: Themes

A quick post for a quick part of the Ditch Day process: the Theme of the Stack.

At some point in its evolution from ‘yeah, you’re never getting into my room, no matter how hard you try’ to ‘I’m going to distract you from getting into my room with an awesome adventure’ the theme of a stack became a integral part of Ditch Day. The degree of importance varies from a vague bit of lip service in the name of the stack and the wording of clues to full-on costumes and role-playing.  This spectrum of theme-importance is yet another way to make ditch day great for everybody – there is no rule set in stone, so you can go on the stack that fits your taste in terms of theme-spicing.

Personally, I was a fan of a pretty significant theme in stacks – it allowed me to really engage my imagination and for a day be a world-trotting adventurer or a master of heists. Thus, in line with my guiding theory that ‘you should want to go on your own stack more than any other stack’ I planned on theme mattering quite a bit. But what theme to choose?

Well, lets see – what is basically my favorite fictional work that involves an immersive world, a small group solving puzzles, having adventures and doing a lot of walking? Lord of the Rings!

I did a very dangerous thing – I set my heart on a theme my sophomore year. This meant that there were two years where someone else could have used it, and it is fairly taboo (though not unheard of) to repeat a theme that has been used any year since you were a freshman – the idea being that nobody could go on both stacks and directly compare them.

So for two years, I sat on pins and needles as the themes of Ditch Day stacks were revealed, hoping that I would not get scooped. My heart nearly jumped out of my mouth when a group of seniors came to the dining hall wearing cloaks and carrying swords my junior year – but luckily there is a fun fact that my paranoia-filled brain forgot: swords and cloaks are pretty common in most works of fantasy.

Wait, what does seniors coming to dinner in cloaks and carrying swords have to do with Ditch Day? Isn’t it an all day puzzle adventure? Well yes, but like any Caltech tradition, there’s always more than the surface explanation. In this case, you’ll have to come back to hear about the best part of Ditch Day that doesn’t actually happen on Ditch Day: Announcements!

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