Wheaton’s Thirty-Third Annual Head of the Peacock

By Emma Kiernan and Joshua Nangle

On Friday, April 26 Wheaton held the thirty-third annual Head of the Peacock as part of Spring Weekend celebrations.

The Head of the Peacock is a boat race featuring different theme houses, clubs, and student organizations on campus. Any organization can build its own ‘boat’ and race it on Peacock Pond. The boats vary in size, materials, and floatation abilities. 

Some ‘boats’ were as simple as pool noodles taped to garbage cans, with rowers using winter shovels as paddles. Others had creative themes and complex structures, like the miniature wooden pirate ship with a mast and a sail. “I am always impressed by the creativity of the students and appreciate their enthusiasm and participation in this annual event,” said Lisa Yenush, Senior Associate Athletics Director. 

Yenush had the opportunity to attend the event this year. She also oversees the event and ensures transitions between races go smoothly. “I think it is a great tradition for the campus and a good kickoff to spring weekend,” said Yenush.

Other administrators were in attendance, including Dean of Students Darnell Parker and President Michaele Whelan. Whelan performed the crucial ceremonial act of shooting the starting pistol to signal the beginning of the competition. 

Only two boats can race at a time, so the races last for several hours. There are prizes for one competitor each in the large boat and small boat categories. 

Throughout the afternoon, hundreds of Wheaton community members came to support their friends and favorite clubs. 

Senior Sara Tamara Giraldo felt that this race was especially important given it was her last Spring Weekend.

“I’m very sad that this is my last Head of the Peacock for sure. Before, I had heard of it and seen it from afar but I hadn’t stayed longer than like five minutes to see it,” said Giraldo.

President Whelan presenting Outdoors House with an award after the boat won first prize in the large boat category. Photo Courtesy of Joshua Nangle

First year Jadelyn Wilson-Joutras said she was rooting for the pirate ship because her friend Clay Walker was a rower on the ship. 

The Farmhouse boat edged out a win against the pirate ship in the first round, but Wilson-Joutras was no fair weather fan. “I think Clay did fabulous, he’s amazing,” she said after the race was over. 

Perhaps controversially, a few students in attendance weren’t there to support any Wheaton organizations. Sophomores Will Bazin and Kevin Rourke claimed they were rooting for the water. 

“The water was given to us by the great earth, and the boats, they’re a mockery of the water,” Bazin said. “They’re attempting to conquer what cannot be conquered and their hubris, when they sink, is being put to the test.”

The pride and dignity of event participants were indeed at stake. In many races, at least one boat would gradually sink, forcing rowers to either continue in a water-logged state or ‘abandon ship’ and push the remnants of the boat back to shore. 

Rourke thought that this persistent struggle between nature and man was a highlight of the race. “Honestly just watching the boats kind of fill up with water and the students kind of fall into the water, I think that’s the best part,” he said.

Ultimately Rushlight, Wheaton’s literary magazine, took home the first prize for the small boat races, while Outdoors House won the big boat category. It seemed a soggy but glorious victory for both of them.