8,000 revellers participated in Oxford’s traditional May Day celebrations on Friday morning.
Students and locals alike gathered on Magdalen Bridge to listen to Magdalen College choir sing Latin hymn ‘Te Deum patrem colimus’ at 6am.
The event was accompanied by heightened safety measures in an attempt to discourage those attending from traditional jumping into the river. The bridge was closed to traffic for three hours and more than 30 police officers were drafted in to control the crowds.
Supt Andy Murray, Area Commander said, “We had 30 police officers who were on duty throughout the night and early morning. They worked closely with the ambulance service, fire service and stewards who were there to ensure the public’s safety. There were no injuries and only one person was arrested for a minor public order offence.”
However, around a dozen participants dived into the river Cherwell after traffic was resumed and police left the scene.
The peculiar atmosphere of the day was felt by those attending. Hugh Trimble, staff at the University careers service described the morning, “In the centre of Oxford we had the usual sweet-voiced choirboys and bedraggled all-night ball-goers, a man dressed as a tree, and more morris dancers than you could shake a stick at.”
For many students it was the first time they participated in May Day celebrations.
Jan Deeg, first year Arabic student commented, “At the time I was really annoyed because I stayed up all night. But when I went there it was the best atmosphere. It was good to see Oxford from another side…the romantic, the poetic one. The performance itself was a bit of disappointment as the audio quality wasn’t that good and I couldn’t see much. But because it was such an Oxford thing, I was happy to attend.”
Many appreciated the opportunity to celebrate with the locals. Kei Hamada, St John’s student said, “Although I hadn’t been planning on it the previous night, I’m glad I made it to Magdalen to hear the choir – seeing everyone flocking towards the tower was bizarre, and it was a rare moment where town and gown were really enjoying themselves together.”
For some, May Day was an unforgettable experience. One member of Magdalen’s choir said, “Singing on the tower was exciting. It was amazing to finish singing and hear all the cheers from so far below. Although it was slightly scary when the bells started ringing and the tower started to sway.”