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Johnson Games start Inaugural week

By Sharon Price

Approximately 60 teams totaling over 2500 people competed in Saturday's Johnson Games, the first event in this week's Inaugural festivities. The games were organized to involve many members of the MIT community in the Inauguration celebration of President Charles M. Vest, who will be formally inaugurated as the 15th president of MIT this Friday.

Saturday's games marked the second time the Johnson Games have taken place at MIT. The games first took place in 1988 to celebrate the dedication of the Johnson Athletics Center

to Howard W. Johnson, former president and chairman of the MIT Corporation.

"President Vest wanted to include the whole community in the Inaugural festivities, and [the Inaugural Planning Committee] remembered the success of the first Johnson Games," according

to Kathryn W. Lombardi, executive assistant to the president and a member of the Inaugural Planning Committee.

In the future, the games will probably take place about every three years, Lombardi said.

The competition was supervised by Safaris, a San Francisco-based company that specializes in organizing field days for large groups. Fifty student volunteers also participated in running the games.

Each team participating consisted of a balanced ratio of faculty and staff to students, and women to men. "The idea was to get a nice mix of everyone from the community, so people could interact with people they normally don't," said Sarah Swett, a member of the Johnson Games Committee.

Each team centered around a core group, aca

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demic department or office. Some of the competitors included the Fatigued Creeps from the materials science and engineering department, the Wrighton Stuff from the provost's office, and

the first-place Stratton Stompers from the Campus Activities Complex.

Events ranged from such traditional activities as a balloon toss and volleyball to the more innovative lambada contest, a race in which team members danced together and supported blocks of foam using their bodies without using their hands. Peter K. Verprauskus '94, one of the student referees who assisted the Safaris staff, said, "It was really fun -- and I got to demonstrate the lambada four times."

The winning team, the Stratton Stompers, captured first place

in the balloon toss, the "Celtic Gardens" and the "Howard Sez" contests. The Stratton Stompers team was designated the winner for accumulating the most overall points.

Assistant Director of Athletics and member of the Johnson Games Committee Jane Batts considered the event a huge success. "This is the largest number of teams Safaris has ever managed," she said.