May Day Beach and Pier

100 College Avenue

In 1907, Daphne residents organized the School Improvement Association to raise money for a school of higher learning (Daphne Normal State School).   35   Citizens volunteered their time and talents for a May Day Celebration that became an annual tradition for the subsequent 60 years. In 1911, the pageantry was patterned after Vassar’s Daisy Chain by the director of the Daphne Normal School, Professor Bertsil Burgess Baker, and his wife, Bonnie.


A queen and a king with a court of 4-6 attendants, selected by the faculty, processed from the school down the hill along a walkway decorated with crepe paper, smilax and flowers to a platform near the beach. Young girls in beautiful long frilly gowns danced the traditional May Pole. This event grew to include courts from surrounding schools, which then competed for the crowning of the queen with the most beautiful court. At May Day, the air was filled with the aromas of barbecue, hickory smoke, honeysuckle, and bay water.   The elaborate pageantry was followed on May Day by athletic events, baby shows, cakewalks, horse races, politician speeches, and ball games, stretching into the night and ending with square dancing under the stars.



 Today, the May Day beach is a public park for picnicking, swimming, fishing, boating and “jubilee-ing”. By the beach, the concrete May Day platform remains on the south side of the park.  From the pier, the jagged pilings of old steamboat landings (the Daphne Landing to the south and the Howard/Dryer Landing to the north) silently testify to days that were gentler and less hurried.