As heavy rains and strong winds continued to blow through central New Jersey, I decided to brave the closed roads and downed trees and head over to Princeton for the first ever, Annual Pi Day on Sunday, March 14th.
Why Pi Day in Princeton, NJ? Well, March 14th, or 3-14, (3, 1, and 4 being the first three digits in pi) was also the birthday of the brilliant mathematician and resident of Princeton, Albert Einstein. Princeton enthusiast, and owner of the Princeton Tour Company, Mimi Omiecinski, says of the coincidence, “Here we are surrounded by all this intellect and to find out Einstein’s birthday fell on the same day was unbelievable to me. The planet needs to know where to celebrate bein’ a geek on Pi Day!”
The day’s festivities included an Albert Einstein look-alike contest, a pie throwing contest, sales and discounts (of 3.14% or $3.14) in many shops and businesses along and near the Palmer Square area, as well as a $3.14 walking tour, of a total of 3.14 miles, to learn about the life of Albert Einstein.
I put my best “geeky” foot forward and took the tour. It began, under a cloudy and ominous sky, at the Princeton Library and each stop afterwards brought me (and the dozen or so others who were traveling in my group) to various local businesses participating in the day’s event. The stops were charmingly facilitated by actors who represented major figures in Einstein’s personal and professional life. I don’t want to give away too much of the information that we received on the tour, because hearing it from the actors was half the fun, but each person provided us with unique and entertaining information about our birthday genius. Pauline, Einstein’s mother (played by Donna Renner) informed us at the first stop, as only a proud mother could, of her son’s special talents and her role in cultivating them. For example, we learned that it was she who gave him his violin and encouraged him to practice, not his father as so many people believed.
At the second stop on the tour, Mileva, Einstein’s 1st wife (played by Jennifer Hawkes) entrusted us with scandalous information regarding her relationship with Einstein before they married and explained, sadly why it was that their relationship ultimately ended. Knowing how much Einstein’s mother disliked Mileva, we moved on to Elsa, Einstein’s 2nd wife (played by Janet Giles) who explained all of the real reasons that she was a better wife than Mileva for Einstein. She also told us about several of Einstein’s idiosyncrasies (like how he couldn’t concentrate when he was wearing socks) as well as what he thought about his celebrity status.
The latter part of the tour focused more on Einstein’s professional life and from Abraham Flexner, Einstein’s boss (played by Brad Hodges) we got a good sense of what it was like to have worked with Einstein, and what it was like to be the only person that Einstein possibly ever considered to be his enemy. The final stop of the tour took us to the Nassau Inn where we met Robert Oppenheimer, Einstein’s friend and colleauge (played by Henry Vega) and John von Neumann, another friend of Einstein (played by Will Cesparian). These gentleman helped us understand how the culture and climate of Princeton were influenced by Einstein and how Princeton influenced him as well.
Since the rain still hadn’t started up again by the time the tour was completed, I had the opportunity to walk around Princeton a little while longer to see what bargains or sales I could find (the 3.14 of Pi was intriguing to me). I found so many fun shops in Princeton, many with an environmental and eco-friendly focus, that I could easily fill a day (or two) of just shopping along Nassau Street. I was eventually distracted from my shopping spree however, when I wandered into a crowd where there were several “familiar” faces. One of these faces belonged to Martin Weinapple, a psychologist from Princeton Medical Center who was excited to participate in the Einstein look-alike contest. There were other look-alikes walking around; some of them were as young as five years old! It was Weinapple, however, who seemed to steal the show. I had to wait my turn in order to chat with him and pose for a picture because he was so popular. He remained in full Einstein character as he happily greeted Pi Day attendees, explaining, of course, why he wasn’t wearing any socks.
The rain continued to hold off until most of the outdoor activities had ended, and the first Princeton Pi Day was a success. I’m pretty sure that Einstein would’ve approved. And if not, there were plenty of pies he could have thrown.
Plans are already in the works for the Second Annual Princeton Pi Day, so when it gets closer to March 14th next year, be sure to check in with the Princeton Tour Company for details. In the mean time, if you are looking for a fun way to learn about Princeton history, you can check with the Princeton Tour Company about one of their many other programs…I am already beginning to plan my next few tours with them such as the Ghost Tour and the Hollywood Tour.
See you in Princeton!
The Jersey Girl
NOTE: All photos in this post courtesy of Christina Rudczynski