This weekend, third year law students at the University of Wisconsin will honor an almost century long tradition (no one knows for sure) of the homecoming cane parade and toss.
A recent article in On Wisconsin describes the tradition:
When they arrive in the shadow of the Field House, students toss their canes over the goalpost. It’s a decades-long tradition that holds that catching their canes means they’ll win their first cases after graduation. Drop them and they lose.
When the concept of law students carrying canes first appeared at the UW is in question. One report indicates it originated at Harvard University and showed up here in 1910. The tradition is also strongly linked to law professor William Herbert Page, who claimed it started in 1917 when he came to Madison from Ohio State.
Here are a few more articles and photos of the cane toss:
- Law School Legends and Lore Cane Parade from the Law School Web site
- “The University of Wisconsin Law School, 1868-1968, An Outline History,” 1968 Wis. L. Rev. 321, has a paragraph about it on p 328-329.
- Profile of Harry S. Richards in “Three Historic Deans Honored,” 26 Gargoyle Autumn 1975 – Summer 1976 at 7. “During his tenure….the tradition of the annual Cane Parade began.”
- Story of the Log Cabin Cane Spring/Summer 2004 from 30 Gargoyle at 49
- Photo of cane toss from 1952 from 32 Gargoyle Spring 2006 at 40
- Photo of cane toss from 1979 from 11 Gargoyle Winter 1979 at cover
- Photo of cane archway from 24 Gargoyle Winter 1993, cover.