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Ahead of Exams, Students Strip, Scream, and Stream Through Harvard Yard

Primal Scream is an annual tradition. The spring 2014 iteration is pictured above.
Primal Scream is an annual tradition. The spring 2014 iteration is pictured above. By John Y. Wang
By Michelle G. Kurilla, Crimson Staff Writer

Taking a break from their studying — and their clothing — hordes of College students completed a naked lap around Harvard Yard Wednesday night as part of the biannual tradition of “Primal Scream.”

Warm temperatures welcomed College participants and onlookers as they screamed and streaked through the Yard to blow off steam on the eve of final exam period.

Crowds of students gathered in front of Hollis and Stoughton Halls in the minutes before midnight, as some tourists perched on the steps of University Hall to watch the evening’s events unfold.

When the clock struck midnight, the runners dropped their towels and took off.

Varsity Women’s Ice Hockey members Kate Hallett ’19 and Kaitlin Tse ’19 said they participate in Primal Scream every year with their team.

‘It’s a long standing Harvard tradition,” Hallet said. “Something of which we’d like to be a part, together.”

This year, Hallet and Tse decided to mix things up by wearing rollerblades.

“We want to go out with a bang senior year,” Tse said. “Lead the charge.”

While the event draws some students who pride themselves on participating every year, this year’s Primal Scream attracted two visiting students — Isabel Kroeger and Yuki Nakamura — who said they wanted to witness the Harvard tradition during their time on campus.

Kroeger, a visiting student from the Frankfurt School of Finance Management in Frankfurt, Germany, is only in Cambridge for this semester.

“I’ve heard that it’s a key Harvard tradition so I thought that I wanted to get the real Harvard experience so that’s why I came,” Kruger said.

Nakamura, a visiting student from Yale NUS in Singapore, likewise said she hoped to see the naked race while on campus.

“Similarly to Bella, I heard that was a time where everyone just comes together, all classes, and has a moment to appreciate the Yard naked,” Nakamura said.

As students streaked by, scores of spectators looked on and filmed the naked race on their phones.

Even though Neil K. Khurana ’22 did not participate in Primal Scream, he said he thinks it is a “fun tradition.”

“It’s been going on — I don’t know how long — but it’s a very old tradition so people want to pass it down to the next class,” he said.

Michaela Green ’20 likewise said she did not run this year, but might in the future because Primal Scream is a “rite of passage.”

“I think it’s hilarious and it’s definitely a nice break away from exams and the stresses of schoolwork and it shows a different side to Harvard students,” Green said.

Before and after the event, students also fulfilled a different Harvard tradition — urinating on the John Harvard Statue.

As an audience of tourists recorded on their cell phones, students climbed one after another onto the statue to complete the task. A few students urinated on the statue beforehand, while others climbed the statue naked following their nude lap around the Yard as bystanders cheered.

—Staff writer Michelle Kurilla can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

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