It’s been suspended from a helicopter. It’s been escorted through campus by a fire engine. It’s been buried, burgled, bulldozed, cloned and coated with untold layers of paint.
But in the storied history of the Biola Egg - a rarely seen 300-pound chunk of concrete that students have been hunting and hiding from each other for more than 40 years - there is perhaps nothing like the mysterious and short-lived public resurfacing it experienced this spring.
The latest chapter in Biola’s “yolklore” opened one morning back in May, when President Barry Corey arrived to find the Egg obstructing the entrance to his office. Dropped off during the night by secretive students, it had been painted bright white, with “The Order of Sebaste” brushed on cryptically in black lettering.
With graduation just days away, Corey decided to arrange a viewing for the entire Biola community - a rare opportunity, considering that many students and alumni have gone a lifetime without laying eyes on it. On the morning of the undergraduate commencement ceremony, the president stood at the podium and directed all eyes to his second-story balcony outside of Metzger Hall. There, high above what may have been its largest audience ever, the Egg sat atop a small plastic cart. “Oohs” and “ahs” sounded throughout the crowd.
But as the ceremony continued on and the eyes returned to the stage, the unexpected happened. Without detection, a student scaled the side of Metzger, climbed onto the president’s balcony and managed to wheel the Egg through the mostly vacated building to a getaway vehicle.
As quickly as the Egg had appeared, it had vanished once again.
“All that was left was an empty cart,” said Brian Shook (’92), executive assistant to the president. “It really hadn’t occurred to me that somebody would try to steal it from the balcony that day.”
For Baxter Swenson (’69), one of the original Egg-nappers, the latest snatching was welcome news.
“I think that’s fabulous to be able to get into the president’s private balcony,” he said. “To be able to handle something like that is quite a feat. It just goes to show that the Egg is never safe.”
From the beginning, the Egg has been known for unlikely thefts. The first notoriously occurred in the mid ’60s, when board member Robert Welch donated the original Egg — an ovoid wrecking ball — with the intent that each year’s senior class would hand it down to the succeeding class. But just before a formal dedication ceremony outside Sutherland Hall, a band of underclassmen swooped in and made off with it.
Over the next two years, Swenson was part of the group that kept watch over the Egg. Once, they arranged for it to be driven through campus by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Another time, it was loaded into a Volkswagen bus and driven onto the track during a soccer game. The doors swung open to give onlookers a brief glimpse before the van sped off with a trail of students running in pursuit, Swenson said.
For a while, a papier-mâché version served as a decoy - until the real thing was discovered hiding at nearby Neff Park and fell into new hands, he said.
In the years since, the Egg’s legend has continued to grow, though some stories are probably truer than others. Once, it was supposedly dangled over campus by a helicopter. Another time, it was reportedly driven through the gym on a cart during chapel, causing a mass exodus of students.
The Egg has also reportedly gone missing for stretches of years at a time - only to be rediscovered or remade entirely at points along the way. (Sadly, the original Egg seems to be long gone; today’s version looks more like a giant Extra Strength Tylenol than a wrecking ball.)
“There are theories about how many different iterations of the Egg there are,” said Shook, who has seen the Egg up close a few different times as a student and employee. “There are probably some that are at the bottom of some lake, or buried under concrete.”
While interest in the Egg has fluctuated over the years, Swenson said the latest appearance and theft makes him feel encouraged about the tradition’s future.
“It was kind of sad when nobody knew where the Egg was and the Egg had met its demise,” he said. “So it’s great for the Egg to be unscrambled - Humpty Dumpty put back together again - and for the tradition to be carried on.”