George Mason University students shelved their books and dusted off their frisbees last week as the entire campus exploded into a celebration of spring.

Technically, it was George Mason Day -- but the founding father appeared to be the last person on the minds of the several hundred barefooted celebrants.

In fact, an informal survey of sunbathing students showed only a small percentage actually knew who George Mason was.

"I think he had something to do with the Declaration of Independence," said one stuent as she sipped from a plastic mug. "Or the War of 1812. I don't remember -- but I'm not from Virginia."

The two-day festival was blessed with sunshine, and spirits were soaring after eight months of cold weather, classes, exams and term papers. There were nearly as many carefree dogs roaming the campus as students, and they joined the festivities by romping after frisbees and footballs.

Beer was a spirited seller, priced as it was at 35 cents a mug, and various student organizations set up booths offering food. The campus Hispanic society was selling bowls of chili and the biology club offered piles of rice crispie and marshmallow cookies. Religious groups displayed material designed to feed the soul; proponents of solar energy and the ERA displayed tables of literature.

Overhead, khaki-clad soldiers rappelled from the roof of the library. When the students appeared to lose interest, one Army man faked a fall and someone in the crowd shouted: "Join the Navy!"

There were also jugglers, the national frisbee champion dog, bands and an exhibition by Marine paratroopers.

Perhaps the only person taking the massive party seriously was Del. Martin Perper (R-Fairfax), who seized the opportunity to shake some hands and solicit votes for his 10th District congressional campaign.

But even Perper admitted that campaigning at George Mason was more for pleasure than for votes.

"We figure only about one out of 10 students is registered to vote," he said.