On the first day of school, Mercy’s class of 2018 placed on the heads of their Little Sisters the sorority-like bowlers called Greenies in a way of continuing one of Mercy High School’s finest traditions. Yet many of Mercy’s alumnae stare at the St. Patrick’s Day hats in surprise, because that is not what they remember.
Today, many college sororities give their freshmen ‘beanies.’ For the many people who have no idea what these look like, imagine the Mickey Mouse caps from Disney World, but without the ears, colored blue with felt fabric, and the hand sewn word Mercy on the front, held to the girls’ heads with an elastic band. It would fit on like a graduation cap, but it also looked like a Jewish yarmulke, or even, to put it bluntly, a skullcap!
Mercy’s seniors would give their freshmen the beanies only a few days before stealing them again to decorate lavishly. On Welcome Day, the beanies were returned and a parade of freshmen would go around to show off the creativity. Yet as the years went by, the students decorating would slowly become pairs and small groups of people, doing a similar theme, or a group idea, such as Star Wars, How to Train Your Dragon, Bob Ross, Life Alert, The Incredibles, Winnie the Pooh, Grey’s Anatomy, Weddings/Bridesmaids, and even a group as big as 27 Dresses!
Now many students wonder what happened to the beanies. One rumor is that they grew too expensive (they were hand sewn!), and while that may be true, that is not the reason. In 2008 Mercy received the bad news that the company that had always made the beanies no longer carried them; they were no longer being made. Mercy began the hunt for a new headwear immediately to discover. . . GREENIES! These party hats are easy to decorate, affordable, and symbolic. Before coming to Mercy, many girls would associate these bowler hats with Omaha’s St. Patrick’s Day parades. But now they are a symbol of Mercy’s Irish heritage, bringing Mother McAuley’s life into our own in a little way that still rings true.
Mercy has many great traditions, and many could argue that the Greenie Parade is the best. With 30 years of parades, 21 being beanies, nine being greenies, and three including the new teachers, Mercy’s past and current students remember fondly the friends they made and the creativity they saw.