Lancelot and Elaine
It was the climax of VEISHEA, 1935. A large float, shaped like a swan and carrying flower-bedecked and white-robed Iowa State maidens, emerged from a smoke screen and glided its way to the middle of Lake LaVerne. And then the plaster swan unloosed its feathered passengers: four swans.
Two of the swans were named Lancelot and Elaine by student Jean Nesinwanger, who won $10.00. Since that time, there have been numerous Lancelots and Elaines (including a pair of trumpeter swans reintroduced to their original Iowa habitat) and in 1944, 1970, and 1971 cygnets (baby swans) were born. Swans take a mate for life unless one of the pair dies or is moved away.
Lake LaVerne, the home of Lancelot and Elaine, was created with a $10,000 donation in 1916 by LaVerne W. Noyes. Noyes, a wealthy Chicago philanthropist and member of the first graduating class of 1872, funded a lake in what had been a three-acre marsh area, fed by College Creek. Another Iowa State tradition: If you walk around the Lake LaVerne three times with your beloved, you are destined to be together.
This site is co-sponsored by the ISU Alumni Association and the University Archives, ISU Library.
The Iowa State University Alumni Association is an independent 501(c)3, self-governing organization charged with the mission of engaging the talents and resources of alumni, students, and friends in the life, work, and aspiration of Iowa State University. Our vision is to become the lifetime partner in engaging all alumni, students, and friends with Iowa State University.