Members of the senior class and the Yale Precision Marching Band braved an icy rain shower today to parade through campus, kicking off a three-week campaign to raise money for the Senior Class Gift.

Shielding themselves with umbrellas, the intrepid crowd marched from the Rose Walk outside Sterling Memorial Library to the Beinecke Plaza. The band stopped to play a rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” by the Women’s Table, followed by Cascada’s “Evacuate the Dance Floor” and more traditional Yale fight song “Down the Field” at the end of its journey.

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Handsome Dan was also present, shuffling through the snow on the ground to lead the parade. “We had our real live mascot, who was so excited, you could just tell,” said Tully McLoughlin ’11, a Senior Class Gift co-chair. “He was trying to lick everything. He’s adorable.”

The Senior Class Gift is an annual tradition that encourages graduating students to donate money to Yale, co-chair Haley Cohen ’11 said. The parade was the first of several grade-wide events planned for the next few weeks to elicit donations of at least $5 from each senior, she said.

“We’re big about participation,” McLoughlin said. “Our ultimate goal, more than any single monetary amount, is to have every single one of the seniors give to the gift. And that’s 1,322 students.”

While residential colleges will also sponsor their own events, all seniors are invited to a trivia night next Wednesday, Feb. 9 at Anna Liffey’s and a karaoke night one week later, Feb. 16, at Black Bear Saloon.

The campaign will end on Feb. 22 with a four-hour all-you-can-eat pizza event at BAR, Cohen said. Students who donate in advance of the events will be entitled to a free drink.

Correction: February 1, 2011

A previous version of this post misstated the number of seniors in the Class of 2011. There are 1,322.