Quick Trip to Notre Dame and Back

On Saturday, I went up to Notre Dame (at Domer’s request) for the Band’s annual “Plaiding Ceremony.”

I didn’t stay for the game — didn’t have a ticket.

I didn’t spend the night — hadn’t booked a hotel.

But he wanted me there, and it would be my first chance to see him since he returned to the States from Ireland, so I went.

And I’m glad I did!

Before the ceremony, I wandered around campus, taking in the familiar sights and sounds.

People milling around, eating, tossing footballs, laughing:

I made my way into the student union and saw this cool T-shirt (it’s already personalized with Domer’s name, too!):

After I got back outside, I fell in love with this tree. Doesn’t it look like Cousin Itt from the Addams Family??:

When time neared for the Plaiding Ceremony, I caught up with Domer and we walked over to Bond Hall, the architecture building. That’s the site for the Band’s Concert on the Steps prior to every home football game, and it’s got a ginormous stairway — big enough to accommodate the entire Band.

Though they’re packed in like sardines! (If you follow the Photos tab on the Bond Hall link, you’ll see what I mean).

Anyway, the Plaiding Ceremony is one of the Band’s traditions. During Band Camp in August, students receive their uniforms, but the first-years don’t get a plaid.

Prior to the first home game, they’re called to the steps and welcomed. The upperclassmen, wearing the plaid of the freshman they’ve been assigned, climb the steps, find their freshman, remove the plaid, and affix it to the freshman’s uniform.

After pictures and hugs, everyone except the seniors vacates the steps, making way for the person the senior has selected to affix their plaid.

Which looks somewhat different from the underclassman’s plaid.

It’s got more “flash” and gold roping. It’s also theirs, purchased by them to keep forever.

You’re probably wondering what the plaid looks like. Well, excuse the sorry state of Domer’s dorm room door, but here it is:

It was specially designed for Notre Dame and is trademarked and copyrighted. It incorporates the school colors of blue and gold, green for the Irish, red for the Church and the Holy Cross Fathers, and black to tie it all together.

The plaid is outlined in gold and has the senior Band student’s name embroidered on the inside. It buttons to the epaulets on the left shoulder and drapes behind the student, providing an eye-catching shimmer when the Band spins and moves.

The ND Band is the oldest university band in continuous existence in the United States. Its traditions go way back, with even legendary football Coach Knute Rockne having been a flute player and former AD Moose Krause a clarinet player.

As I hugged Domer and headed for home, I took one more shot, over the lake toward the Golden Dome and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart:

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24 thoughts on “Quick Trip to Notre Dame and Back

    • I didn’t know too much about this tradition until I was asked to participate. As a freshman, Domer was “plaided” by one of the upperclassmen. I love Fall colors at any time, but, despite somewhat cooler temps on Saturday, it really didn’t much look like Fall. Maybe it will for my next trip up that way!

  1. What a beautiful campus! How nice that you live close enough that you can make a day trip out of it. My daughter’s school is about 2,000 miles away, so alas, I don’t have that option, though I wish I did, especially in the fall when, in my estimation, the campus is at its most beautiful.

    • She must be clear across the country! You’re a brave and loving mom to let her “fly” that far. Kids seem to do better when they’re allowed to soar, don’t you think? And here, I’m pea-green over the parents who live as close as Chicago, who get to campus much more than I do!

  2. Love the expansive shot of the Cousin It tree and the very wise “mother” shot of the plaid in the dorm room (macro and exclusive of the rest of the room). What a fun trip for you.

    • Thanks, Barb. Yes, it was indeed a “mother” photo — I got lots of them that day, willingly handing over my camera to whoever looked like he’d photograph me and my son. Who but a mom would hang a piece of plaid material over a hook on the back of a dorm door and preserve it for posterity?!

  3. How cool! I love long standing traditions and since my grandfather went to Norte Dame (but not a member of the band) this all very fun to learn about.
    Waldorf has a Rose ceremony where the seniors welcome the first graders with a rose at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year the first graders give the graduating seniors a rose. When Cole graduates in 2014 he will have been both a frist grader and a senior. I will need a lot of kleenex.

    • You should definitely start stocking up on Kleenex right now! The next couple of years will find you reaching for them again and again — I still get all teary-eyed when I hear “Pomp and Circumstance.” And don’t get me started about watching your son fly off to college! I love that Waldorf Rose Ceremony — an ending and a beginning — how appropriate!

  4. What a great tradition to bring the freshmen in with. I love that it also bookends the year for the seniors between this and senior day.

    • Thanks for reading! ND is chock full of traditions, Domer tells me. This one is pretty well-attended, and I’m told there were some seniors with misty eyes. Not my kid, but he was pretty quick to point out that others in his class were more emotional. I bet there will be lots of that this year!

  5. Debbie, you are such a great writer. I don’t know anything about Notre Dame except the little bit I glean when I watch football with Bill, but now I have a nice sense of the richness and sentimentality a person could love about the place. Thanks, and good job.

    • Your words are music to my ears, Lynne! To have you (already a published author!) tell me I’m “a great writer” — even if you’re just being nice! — well, that gives me hope I can one day be published, too. Thanks for the encouragement, and keep watching football — it’s a great sport, and these colleges are so rich in tradition!

  6. That last picture of the lake is awesome. The campus looks beautiful, and Cousin Itt is a nice addition :) Thanks for sharing the story of plaiding. I’d never heard of this and found it interesting. I think that is a wonderful and unique keepsake, as well.

    • Thanks for reading, Janna. Campus is beautiful any time of the year, and this lake is an especially popular place. You can walk all the way around it, too. After four years in Band, it’s nice that Domer will carry away a memento like this plaid!

  7. Knute Rockne played flute? No kidding! For some reason, that stopped me in my tracks.

    I love college traditions, and it was fun to find out about this one. I know almost nothing about Notre Dame except that they’re a good football school – now I know they have a pretty good plaid, too!

    I’m much closer to Rice University. They have a building with a beautiful, arched sallyport. The tradition is that matriculating freshmen enter school through the sallyport, and graduates leave through it. Well, and there are a lot of social occasions held there, too!

    • I know a Rice grad! He absolutely loved it there, too. Sounds like a neat tradition — so many of our universities have wonderful traditions, designed to help students make memories they’ll treasure as alums. Yeah, it’s kinda hard to reconcile a tough football coach with a guy who played flute, ha!

  8. Wow, I’m a big ND fan (after my beloved Huskers, of course!), plaid fan, and fall fan. So, you’re three for three on this post.

    I didn’t know about the “plaiding” tradition. Don’t know how that’s escaped me, since I’m 1) Irish, 2) A ND fan, and 3) love plaid. Hmm …

    • Delighted to meet another ND fan! I went to Ole Miss myself, but the likelihood we’ll ever meet in “battle” is pretty slim, so I can “cheer cheer for old Notre Dame” to my heart’s content! Glad you enjoyed the “plaiding” — it really is a cool tradition.

  9. Debbie, I’m so glad you got to see Domer after his trip to Ireland! The photographs are great and the “Cousin It” tree photo made me chuckle! You have such an imagination! I did not know about the “plaiding” tradition but I’ll say the plaid on Domer’s door is gorgeous! :)

    • Thanks for reading, Bella. Yes, it’s a beautiful plaid — the colors are gorgeous, and the gold roping really makes it stand out. And might I add, it was delightful to get a big hug from my Domer and see for myself that he’s safe and sound!!

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