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A huge rain smote Cambridge on June 13 and 14, dousing Harvard with more than seven inches of water. Had an academic festival been in progress at the time, the President and Fellows, the Overseers, the honorands, and the sheriff of Middlesex County, ensconced on such occasions beneath this tent, would have had to crouch to be fully visible to the degree candidates, their families, and friends assembled in Tercentenary Theatre.
The tent, which had been left standing after Commencement on June 4 to dry thoroughly before being stored, is of course designed to shed water. But it was buffeted by winds in the mid June tempest, and pockets formed where they should not have. The tent filled with rain, and drooped profoundly, but did not actually collapse. Workers to the rescue punched several small drain holes in it (easily repairable, says Diane Jellis, associate director for classes and reunions at the Harvard Alumni Association, which bought the tent two years ago for $26,000).
Resembling the Batmobile in appearance, this tent is the second iteration of a model introduced at Commencement in 1986 (when heavy rain gave it trial by water). Before that time, says Victor Koivumaki '68, Dv '71, executive director of the Harvard Law School Association and secretary for alumni affairs, the Commencement tent was a smaller, rectangular, slanted canopy, higher in front than in back. It collected rain so readily that during bad-weather Commencements-- very rare occurrences--a man with a pole stood by to poke the tent upward from below whenever its sags became menacing.
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