By Kim Uslin
Elm Staff Writer
Classy. That is the one word Director of Student Activities Emmanuel Lalande continuously returned to when describing the upcoming George Washington Birthday Ball. As announced last semester, the theme of this year’s Ball is “The Great Gatsby”. On February 25th, students, faculty, staff, and various other members of the Washington College community will come together in the JFC to celebrate the College’s namesake in style. The Great Gatsby, as many WC students know, is a novel by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald which takes place during the 1920s. The “roaring twenties” era is traditionally characterized by its exciting style and elegance.
“This was a time when men held the doors open for women,” Lalande said. “It was a romantic time, a classy time.”
In order to replicate the Gatsby scene, Lalande and his cohorts have been working tirelessly. “We have been planning since October and will continue to work until after the event has ended,” the Director said. Organizing the event is a huge undertaking that involves many departments of WC, including the SGA, SEB, the President’s Office, the College Advancement Office, The Alumni Office, Board of Visitors and Governors, and other friends of the College.
“We put a lot of work into this event. We have to take into consideration not only the students, but faculty, staff, and every other member of the WC community. It takes a lot of collaboration and a lot of support from different areas,” said Lalande.
Among the most important steps in the Birthday Ball preparation is the decorating process. In order to properly transform the JFC into a Gatsby-inspired bash, Lalande and a team of students and administration met regularly to research the era and get inspiration from the novel itself, as well as film adaptations. The team wants to truly immerse students in the twenties experience, down to small details such as food and drink.
“Having fun and playing around with the theme is good,” said Lalande. “It’s important. It makes it special.”
Despite the diligent preparation undertaken by the planning team, however, much of the success of Birthday Ball depends upon those who attend it.
“What we really want is for people to dress up. Flappers, guys in tuxedoes and shiny shoes-that’s what will really make it fun and classy. Dressing up is not mandatory, of course, but we want people to have fun with it, to really bring that classy atmosphere,” said Lalande. As students prepare for the Ball, buying dresses, renting tuxedoes, or picking up their tickets, Lalande and the whole Birthday Ball team want them to remember what the event means to WC:
“Birthday Ball is a tradition. It is a celebration of George Washington. Without his support there would be no WC. It’s the name we bear. This Ball is a proud tradition which celebrates not only the founding father of our nation but the founding father of our liberal arts institution. Celebrating our history is a beautiful thing. This event is a chance for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and old friends of the College to come together and really celebrate WC”