Princeton celebrates Albert Einstein's birthday with day-long party
The event featured an epic surprise and an Einstein lookalike contest.
Most of us probably recall very little from our high school math classes, but if someone asked us "What's Pi?" we could probably eke out its first three digits: 3.14. Since the numbers are the same as March 14, people have used the day to celebrate the beguiling mathematical constant.
But the day brings on extra significance in Princeton, N.J. That's because March 14 is also the birthday of Albert Einstein, one of Princeton's most famous former residents. (If he were still alive today, he'd be 138 years old.) To celebrate the scientific confluence, the city hosts an annual event that includes everything from an Einstein lookalike competition to an apple pie contest. Local bakery Jammin' Crepes has taken home the prize the last three years running. "There's a rumor in town that they put the recipe in a safe," Mimi Omiecinski, the founder of Pi Day Princeton, told From The Grapevine.
Throughout the day, Anthony Iliakostas, the wunderkind behind the official Albert Einstein social media accounts, was broadcasting the events using Facebook Live.
The morning started off with a "surprise" birthday for the beloved genius at the Morven Museum & Garden. An Einstein re-enactor took part in the celebration and regaled the crowd with stories about his family and his many pets. His German accent shone through when he told the crowd about his favorite dessert: "I like a vanilla ice cream cone with chocolate shprinkles? Can you say shprinkles?" And he also came replete with one-liners, including this gem: "You know what I call my hairstyle?" He paused for a beat. "I call it negligence."
The genius was portrayed by New Jersey actor Bill Agress, who is also known for his spot-on George Washington impersonation. "That dude stayed in character the whole time when I met him," Iliakostas enthused afterwards.
After the birthday party was finished, the crowd made their way to the nearby Nassau Inn for an Einstein lookalike contest, which featured people of all ages dressing up as the Nobel Prize-winning physicist. The winner was 22-month-old Armaan Patel. His prize was $314.15 (That's Pi, get it?). You can watch the entire lineup in the video below:
Next up, in honor of Einstein's love of the violin and classical music, was a concert called "Meet the Music: Albert & Wolfgang" with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performing at Princeton University. "Einstein was an avid fan of Mozart, and it's abundantly clear that Mozart's music is designed to incite imagination and creativity, which Einstein was a huge proponent of," Iliakostas told us. "This concert married Mozart's music beautifully with visuals intended to simulate Einstein's thought experiments. You can't ask for anything better than two geniuses in their respective industries joining forces in this capacity; it was a unique and special concert experience."
The day also featured a one-man show about Einstein and a Pi recitation contest (i.e. who could list as many numbers of Pi as possible). The fun continues on Tuesday when several couples will be renewing their wedding vows at the Princeton Pi, a local pizza joint that is decorated with Einstein-related knick-knacks and paraphernalia.
The promotion from the live videos were a boon to the event. "It was such a thrill," Omiecinski told us. "Never in our wildest dreams did we think we'd get picked up by the real Albert Einstein."
Omiecinski hopes to eventually put Princeton Pi Day events and a trip to Einstein's American hometown on par with a trip to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for Groundhog Day. "I kind of hope that smarty pants from all over the world will come once in their life."
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Related Topics: Albert Einstein