The historic – and normally quiet – Horseshoe at the heart of the University of South Carolina’s campus erupted with the screams of thousands of USC students as they participated in the annual Sorority Bid Day Run Sunday.
Many current sorority members were adorned in festive colors and face paint, unfurling their banners to welcome incoming freshman into USC Greek life.
Thousands of onlookers formed a human tunnel lining the steps of the McKissick Museum and cutting through the brick pathways and grassy patches of the Horseshoe.
At 2:30 p.m. the newly announced sorority members stampeded toward their new sisters in a continuous chorus of screams that lasted a full 15 minutes.
Bennett Holland of Pinehurst, N.C., said she was glad she could find her new sisters of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority after running through the tunnel.
“It was so nerve-racking,” Holland said. “I was trying so hard not to trip.”
Holland was greeted by Kasey Brown of Greenville, who gave her a bag of Kappa Kappa Gamma welcoming gifts amid hugs and congratulatory screams.
“It means the world to me that I get to share the love of my sisters with new sisters today,” Brown said.
Of the 1,655 girls who went through the recruitment process for the 2014-2015 school year, just over 1,400 would be inducted as new members, said Mary Cate Duffy, a senior Delta Zeta member.
“You’re praying that you get the one you want, but you’re so excited that there are 300 girls waiting there to welcome you with open arms,” Duff Said.
Incoming freshman sorority hopefuls, as well as parents and other students, descended on the Horseshoe to watch the freshman run to the sororities that selected them based on each house’s criteria.
“It’s different for each sorority,” Elizabeth Hensley, a senior Delta Zeta member, said. “They have to have a minimum 3.0 (grade point average). We look for girls who are involved with the community and overall awesome girls.”
The festivities marked the beginning of the next four years of college as members of a new sisterhood. The day also brought feelings of nostalgia.
“It brings back memories of being a freshman and doing bid day,” said Darby Thompson, a senior Tri-Delta member. “But now, it’s no nerves, it’s just excitement to get new girls. It was all adrenaline trying to get to your spot.”
For freshman Rachael Huff of Clemson, an exciting aspect of the run was finding out which of the two sorority houses the potential members selected would offer them a bid.
“It’s the anticipation of not knowing that’s exciting,” Huff said. “It’s the ability to join something that is bigger than yourself,” Huff said. “Everyone is just as excited about their philanthropy and excited to have you there.”
Among the sidelines spectators Sunday was Joanne Carsillo, a Columbia resident of 30 years and originally from New Jersey. She was watching her daughter, Danielle, run through the tunnel.
“My heart is about to pound out of my chest. This is crazy,” Carsillo said. “She spent one year at College of Charleston and she said she wants to come home to USC.”
Nate Goodwin, a senior member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, said he has come to the bid day run all four years of his college career.
“It’s a lot bigger this year. There is way more people out here yelling,” Goodwin said. “We got girlfriends joining now, we have best friends joining now so it’s just really cool seeing it growing.”
Frazier Beane of Greenville, was crying and shaking after making her way through the tunnel to her new sisters of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.
“I went through the Zeta House and just fell in love with it, it felt so right,” Beane said. “To be a part of a sisterhood and to be a part of a new family is so exciting.”