Campus Life / Traditions

A Few of Our Favorite Things

Since Central’s founding in 1853, there have been many “favorite things” on campus.

Foods, traditions, people, buildings, activities and programs — there are really too many favorites to count. So here, in no particular order, are some things Central students love most.

Iconic Spirited Sustainable Even More


Central College students participating in a boat race on the pond.

The Pond

More than just an idyllic campus focal point, the pond also hosts families of geese, boat races, ice skating and the annual Lemming Race where costumed students leap in during Homecoming.

Central College students playing 'gennis,' which is a game of golf with tennis balls.


Golfing with tennis balls has been a tradition on campus since 2004 — and gorgeous weather always brings out players. Watch where you hit, though — the pond can be chilly!

The iconic red phone booth located on Central College's Peace Mall, the heart of campus.

The Phone Booth

You’ll find this red, iconic structure at the heart of Central's campus. While it's a great photo op, it also serves as a reminder of the college's commitment to off-campus experiences.

Check out the story of Central’s phone booth, as told by Hailey Swan ’23.

The Central College bridge, which spans the pond at the center of campus.

The Bridge

The bridge over the pond on Central College’s campus helps you get where you need to go — like Central! We won’t go too heavy on the metaphors, but it’s true! Our bridge is one of the most recognizable parts of our campus and one of the most beloved.

We’ve Got Spirit

Big Red, Central's mascot, sitting on a bench and giving a friendly wave to the camera.

Big Red

Big Red is Central College’s mascot and biggest cheerleader! Our mane fan on campus is a lion (if you couldn’t tell) and pays homage to our Dutch roots as the lion is featured in the royal coat of arms from the Netherlands.

Get to know Big Red better, and don’t be afraid to say hello or grab a photo!

Students posing for a photo on Hoo-Rah Day

Hoo-Rah Day

We have a WHOLE DAY dedicated to celebrating the Central College family and supporting what they love most — like academic programs, ensembles, athletics teams, scholarships and more! #HooRahDay falls in early April, and you’ll find that campus bursts with food, fun and Central spirit.

You won’t be able to walk anywhere without seeing students, faculty and staff wearing their Central gear loud and proud. Get ready!

Central College students wearing costumes and posing for a photo following the Lemming Race.


We know we say this a lot, but Central College is your home away from home. Our alumni are thrilled to come back during Homecoming each fall to catch up with classmates, faculty and friends, see what has changed (or stayed the same) and explore Pella.

In addition to the famous Lemming Race, expect lots of Central spirit, good food, a Dutch victory and comradery. #GoDutch

Members of the Central College Class of 2022 walking at Commencement.

Forever Dutch®

You’re here for four years, but your membership in the Central College family lasts a lifetime. From the classroom and the stage to the football field and the laboratory, you’re going to do a lot of amazing things you’ll look back on and be proud of.

You’ll have lifelong relationships with classmates and mentors, memories from campus events and late-night runs for pizza, a personalized educational experience that will set you up for success and so much more. It’s the experience of a lifetime, and we want you to be part of it.

Focused on Service & Sustainability

Central College students working in a garden on Service Day.

Service Day

Every year, Central offers an alternative day of learning for students, faculty and staff to bond while completing tasks that help worthy organizations in Pella and Central Iowa achieve their missions.

A person tending to beehives at Central College.

Bees and Trees

Central is recognized as a certified Bee Campus USA (the first college in Iowa) and Tree Campus USA. As such, our campus is committed to practices supporting and learning about pollinators, promoting healthy trees and engaging campus in conservation efforts. We're basically the bee's knees!

A bird's-eye view of Central College.

Think Green

Central is committed to sustainability. Every student takes a course in sustainability and puts their knowledge into action.

But we don’t just talk the talk; our campus features multiple Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified buildings, including a platinum LEED rating for the Roe Center. Central prides itself in being a leader in environmental stewardship in Iowa and the Midwest.

Even More Traditions

Central College student Ellie Roorda ’24 riding the Tulip Queen float at Tulip Time.

Tulip Time

You’ve probably noticed we’re in touch with our roots and we’re not shy about it — just you wait for May when things get real Dutch!

During the first full week in May, Pella transforms for Tulip Time, the annual festival featuring amazing Dutch treats, costumes, traditions and more. Thousands of tourists descend upon the town to see more than 200,000 tulips in bloom and experience all that comes with the three days of fun.

Former Tulip Time royalty, Ellie Roorda ’24 has the scoop.

Central College students perform during a Flying Pans Steel Drum Band concert.

Feel the Rhythm

Flying Pans Steel Drum Band, directed by Stan Dahl, senior lecturer of music, is the only one of its kind in the country.

Whether you’re a skilled musician or just want to try something new, all are welcome! If music isn’t for you, take in the sounds of the Caribbean during the ensemble’s fun, themed performances.

A Central College student working in the on-campus glassblowing studio.


Central College’s Lubbers Center is home to our state-of-the-art glassblowing studio. Fun fact: Central is the only four-year college in Iowa with glassblowing as a regular course offering AND the only private school in Iowa with a glassblowing studio!

Blown away? You should be.

Sculpture of Harold Geisler, found on the Central College Peace Mall.

Art Around Campus

You’ve taken a campus tour on your visit, but have you experienced the campus artwork? Works of art have become a quintessential part of the Central College landscape.

Explore art installations across campus with Lauren Brown ’24, from Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium to the Maytag Student Center!

More to Discover

There’s a lot to love at Central, and this doesn’t even cover all of our traditions.

See for yourself by visiting campus today!

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