Why is it that when other students at colleges around the world are presented with Thanksgiving break, they bolt out of their dorm doors faster than one could say “turkey, turkey,” but when Yale students are extended the same offer, they keep their feet firmly planted and refuse to leave?

Two words, one hyphenated: Yale-Harvard Weekend. What makes this weekend so utterly gratifying? The clashing of the football teams? The bacchanalian revelry of the tailgates? No — above all, it is the euphonic sweetness of a cappella.

For this Yale-Harvard Weekend, seven a cappella shows will be going on. That’s seven times the number of football games happening, more than one could count on a hand. And the best thing about these shows is that they are amalgamations of Yale-Harvard talent. These young, musically inclined men and women are overlooking their educational loyalties so that the two scholar communities can see that there is more to this weekend than raucous rivalry. Take it from Eddie Higgins ’06.ÊAs a member of the Spizzwinks(?), he has put aside his own interests to host the Harvard-Radcliffe Pitches in his common room.

Now where other than Yale would you find such a chivalrous young man selflessly offering shelter to Harvard’s oldest all-women a cappella group?

Likewise, the Whiffenpoofs know there is more to this weekend than just petty rivalry. These men have recently flaunted their goods in Hollywood and at Princeton and are now about to live their fourth and final Yale-Harvard weekend, in which they will perform their joint show with the Harvard Kroks, Friday at 9 p.m. in Dwight Hall. And as old “Game weekend” pros, they know the best thing about the weekend is the great mix of undergrads and alumni from both Harvard and Yale.

“Not only are your friends in the audience, but also old friends who you haven’t seen in a while, and even older alums who have come back to remember a little bit about their college experience,” Whiff director Brian Kim ’04 said.

This is what creates the weekend — the tradition, the camaraderie and the spreading of joy across school boundaries. This year, the Whiffs also plan on spreading joy throughout the world by using their talent to raise money for children’s literacy.

Whiff business manager Marc Freed-Finnegan ’04 said he conceived of the idea to perform several on-campus concerts to benefit children’s literacy. The Whiffs will also go on a three-month world tour to raise money, sing for children and bring increased attention to the importance of reading and writing. The proceeds from tonight’s show will be benefiting the Youth Reading Corps, Tutoring in Elementary Schools and other Dwight Hall projects. If that doesn’t give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, nothing will.

Fuzzy feelings aside, the fact still remains that this weekend was founded on competition, and competition we will have.ÊAccording to Whiff Dan Freeman ’04, the “competition infused into this weekend gives [the Whiffenpoofs] incentive to sound good.”

Kim agreed that there is definitely some unavoidable implicit rivalry that drives a cappella groups to perform at peak condition over Yale-Harvard weekend. But he also added, “No one likes getting shown up by the group they are hosting.”

But when it comes down to it, Freeman said only one real factor determines a cappella superiority — no matter the hours spent practicing, the fancy tuxedos, the catchy rifts or the smooth, rhapsodic voices, the bottom line is “the Whiffenpoofs are still more famous than the Kroks.”

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