On Thursday, crowds of cheering spectators gathered on the College Avenue campus to watch different student organizations line up on Sicard Street to compete in the 15th annual Homecoming bed races.
The event is part of Rutgers—New Brunswick's Homecoming weekend, a spirited annual tradition where students, alumni and the general Rutgers community unite to honor the "Birthplace of College Football."
Bed racing is a fun and quirky collegiate tradition across the nation. Teams of participants decorate and modify metal bed frames with wheels and then race them in a head-to-head competition, typically on city streets or other designated racecourses.
At Rutgers, teams consist of four helmeted students — three team members must struggle to push the bed and reach the finish line while one team member gets to hold on for dear life on the mattress itself. A panel of judges critically evaluates the student organizations throughout the competition's many rounds.
Since 2008, the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) has organized the University's annual Homecoming bed races. While the event seems silly at first, it bridges the gap between students and the community of New Brunswick.
"There's no better time where you get this many organizations together. It's really to celebrate Rutgers and their involvement in the community," explained Jack Ramirez, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and president of the Rutgers University Student Assembly.
In order to register for the event, student organizations were required to accumulate 50 fidget toys and stress balls for RUPA to donate to the Roosevelt Elementary School in New Brunswick.
"(As a student), you forget that everyday families are in this area as well," Ramirez said. "So to support the community around us while also supporting the pride of Rutgers is just fabulous — I love it."
At bed races, Scarlet Knight pride runs deep. Hundreds of spectators filled the bleachers, lined the racecourse and cheered from balconies and rooftops. Regardless of their affiliation with the participating organizations, these students passionately supported them as if they were their own.
The event's attendees are predominantly underclassmen new to the Homecoming traditions here at Rutgers.
"As a (first-year), I was really intrigued because I had no idea what to expect from the term 'bed races,' but coming here, it was pretty spectacular," said Angelina Gruszecki, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. "It was fun just standing in the bleachers, we all got cowbells (and) it was a cute little experience."
During the event, each team dedicated significant time and effort to meticulously decorate their standard bedframes, coordinate team uniforms or costumes and strategize for the actual race. Each student organization faced unique conflicts like divider collision, wheel loss and decoration malfunctions.
Fan favorite beds included versions of the Mystery Machine from "Scooby-Doo," Appa from "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and Noah's Ark.
Alpha Gamma Delta (AGD), an on-campus social sorority, has participated in the Homecoming bed races since 2016.
Avery Sullivan, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and member of the AGD team, said that while athleticism is a crucial strategy for victory, so is comradery.
"All four of us have been part of the sorority for a while now. We’re all close friends. We even have a big-little duo here," she said.
The Rutgers Spirit Program, composed of members of the University's Cheerleading team and the Dance Team, won this year's annual Homecoming bed races. Sigma Phi Epsilon, an on-campus social fraternity, for the Fairy Tale award.
Spectating members of the Rutgers Spirit Program enthusiastically cheered for their team with on-theme signs and words of encouragement. Those from Sigma Phi Epsilon advocated for their team until the very end.
In the end, Rutgers Spirit Program achieved an all-encompassing victory in the races' finals, encapsulating what it means to be a Scarlet Knight: persevering and supporting others in adversity.
RUPA's annual Homecoming bed races vibrantly displayed school spirit and stands as a cherished tradition that rekindles the scarlet flames of Rutgers pride, year after year.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated two sources' class years.