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Historic Picnic Day Films

In celebration of the 100th Picnic Day and as part of the exhibit, Picnic Day: A Century of Celebration, Special Collections in the University Library, digitized three historic 16mm films of Picnic Day. Funding of the digitization of these three films was provided by the Richard H. and Marilyn (Slater) McCapes Family Trust Gift Fund.

Do you recognize anyone in these films? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Please email us at

Please note that the three films do not have any sound associated with them.

Picnic Day, April 22, 1939

(15:41 min, 168 Mb)

This film features Picnic Day in 1939 and was recorded by Remi C. O’Connor of the Class of 1941. It contains the oldest known footage of campus. Picnic Day was celebrated that year on Saturday, April 22 after rain damage and the demolition of the Classroom Building caused the event to be cancelled in 1938.

The film, which runs for 15 minutes, begins on Friday, April 21 with scenes of students preparing campus for Picnic Day. Friday’s activities also included judging contests for beef cattle, dairy cattle, and poultry for the Future Farmers of America. Footage of Saturday’s Picnic Day events commences with the Northern California Inter-High School Track Meet. Other parts of the event that are filmed include: a honey bee hive demonstration, fashion show, parade featuring the Cal Aggie ROTC unit as well as floats by living groups and campus clubs, band demonstrations including a performance by the Cal Aggie Marching Band, and a horse show. The recording ends with students cleaning up campus on Sunday.

Picnic Day, April 19, 1947

(10:49 min, 116 Mb)

Picnic Day 1947 marked the return of the event after a four year absence due to World War II. The first post war Picnic Day occurred on April 19, 1947. This film, which runs for ten minutes, contains clips of the following events: presentation of judging awards at the reviewing stand, a greased pig on the Quad, alumni registration at the south end of the Quad, a band demonstration on the Quad followed by a bag punching demonstration by Myron Schall at the reviewing stand, the track meet, and finally the fashion show at the Sunken Garden (the current site of the Shields Library courtyard).

Picnic Day, April 18, 1953

(4:08 min, 43 Mb)

The majority of this film focuses on the Picnic Day parade as seen from the corner of Shields Avenue and East Quad.