Pomona College Magazine
Volume 41. No. 1.
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  Two for the Price of One: Ski-Beach Day

On the surface, Ski-Beach Day may look like nothing more than a Southern California version of your typical college “ditch day.”

But this Pomona tradition is about more than jumping moguls and catching waves. Consciously or not, students who go on Ski-Beach are taking part in a ritual fraught with symbolism. The skiing evokes the “snow days” of Pomona’s East Coast peers. The beach connotes our West Coast openness and our connection to the Pacific Rim. So Ski-Beach Day perfectly illustrates Pomona’s unique role among top liberal arts colleges.

And if you bought that malarky, you really do need a break from the books.
Truth be told, we’re not even sure just how Ski-Beach Day got its start. We do know that early in Pomona’s history, classes were dismissed once a year for an all-day outing sponsored by the College. By the 1920s, the fun had moved to the nearby mountains for what became known as Snow Day. But in 1940, a lack of snow meant transforming the tradition into “Beach Day,” with Pomona students setting off for Laguna.

At some point, ski and surf were brought together in a brilliant “because we can” pairing that became one of the College’s most memorable traditions.

“Whenever people unfamiliar with Southern California ask me what the area is like, I like to say it’s one of the few places in the world where you can wake up in a desert and experience something like Ski-Beach Day,” says Katie Spielberger ’05. “I suppose it is rather surreal to leave the snow and run into the waves, but most of my favorite memories of Pomona have been surreal moments like that. I recommend it to anyone. You don’t get a lot of chances to have a day like this!”
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by Pomona College
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