With a satisfying splat the doomed watermelon exploded on the pavement after a seven story decent from Urey Hall at UCSD. It was dropped by sophomore Karlee Garcia from Revelle college, who was selected as this year’s “Watermelon Royalty.”
The 51st UCSD Watermelon Drop took place at noon on Friday, on the east side of Urey Hall next to the ridge walk. Garcia won the title of “Watermelon Royalty” by winning a pageant with a hip hop jazz dance routine, which she performed again at the site of the drop.
“So I go to the seventh floor of Urey Hall and throw the watermelon over the edge, and I’m hoping it goes well,” said Garcia. “Every year they try to beat the record for how far the farthest chunk goes. I’m just ready to eat watermelon.”
Donning a velvet red crown and a royal sash, Garcia walked slowly up several flights of stairs in Urey Hall. She waved at each balcony until she reached the seventh floor, where she paused a moment and tactfully threw the watermelon. The UC San Diego Pep Band played lively music to accompany the suspenseful drop.
The 1974 splat record of 167 feet, 4 inches has proven nearly impossible to beat and this year was no exception. When asked if this year’s drop set a record, the student event organizers in Revelle merely shook their heads.
This Watermelon Drop is the oldest campus ritual at the university dating back to 1965, according to UCSD.
That’s when the physics professor Bob Swanson asked this question on an exam: “What would be the terminal velocity of a watermelon dropped from the seventh floor of Urey Hall and how far would it splat?” The very first watermelon splat spread chunks over 91 feet from the explosion.
According to UCSD, the terminal velocity of a watermelon when it hits the ground is about 112 miles per hour. When the ritual began in 1965, Revelle College would hold a pageant each year to select a “Watermelon Queen.” As the years went by, the title changed from ‘queen’ to ‘royalty’ and has been granted to both women and men.
When asked what the pageant process was like, Garcia said, “Well, what I did was I signed up to be a part of the watermelon royalty pageant, and there they asked me a watermelon-related question. So mine was how have watermelons positively impacted your life?”
“I work at a fruit stand where I’m from,” said Garcia, who is from Los Molinas. “I talked about how watermelons always help me get through my day by keeping me cool and help me not get overheated. And they’ve also just always been there to help me get through really tough times because it gets very hot where I work.”
When this year’s drop ended, students searched to no avail for the chunk of watermelon that landed the farthest away from the drop site. But no garbled chunks came even close to the 167 ft record.
The students then celebrated the end of a long academic year with many plates of freshly sliced watermelon, moist chocolate and creamy vanilla cake. Of course, the sacrificed watermelon was not eaten, and remained splattered in red pieces across the ridge walk in Revelle college.