By Molly Igoe
Elm Staff Writer
This year’s Birthday Ball, held annually to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, was called “Mardi Gras at Washington College.” The Ball took place in the Johnson Fitness Center on Saturday, Feb. 21.
The budget for the Ball comes mainly from student ticket fees. According to Peggy Fulton with the Business Office, if the budget from Birthday Ball is broken down it comes out to $26 per student. The Student Government Association (SGA) donates money every year too.
As a result of the icy conditions on Saturday, the buffet breakfast that was to follow the Ball ended up being cut short by one hour. Heather Morris, director of Student Activities, said, “There will be another late breakfast in March to make up for it.”
Executive Director of Traditions for the Student Events Board (SEB) Katie Gordon said, “The weather made it impossible to serve alcohol at the Ball and breakfast afterwards. I too was upset about this, but there was really nothing that could be done.” Although the breakfast did not go as planned, Gordon said that set up and clean up for the Ball ran ahead of schedule, thanks to the months of planning that went into the event.
Kelsey McCurdy, secretary of social life for the SGA, said, “I think the biggest setback was trying to figure out if we were going to be able to get everyone there safely.” As a result of the weather making roads and pathways slippery, shuttles were restricted, which was a tough but necessary call.
Morris acknowledged that attendance was down this year because of the weather, and McCurdy said, “The hard thing for future plans in terms of weather is that the date is picked months in advance. Once it’s picked, there really is no rain date, and, unfortunately, George was born in February when there is bad weather. The best we can do is hope for good weather and rely on the great work the Buildings and Grounds does when the weather fails us.”
Buildings and Grounds worked hard all day Saturday, clearing pathways and roads to ensure that students and drivers would be as safe as possible. In terms of plans for the years to come, Morris said that she is working with Building and Grounds, the Office of Student Affairs, and Public Safety on a contingency plan that will set guidelines for what to do if the weather is bad again. She said, “In the three years that I’ve been here for the Ball, this is the first time we have had a problem with the weather.”
Although there were some complaints about not having a bar and the reduced number of shuttles, McCurdy said she heard mainly positive things about the Ball and was happy with the general response from students.
Morris said that she was impressed with the amount of patrons she saw wearing boots and sweatpants over their dresses, which was accommodated for with a boot and coat check in the JFC. Likewise, Gordon said, “I thought Birthday Ball went fantastically under the circumstances.”
In the end, thanks to the SEB, the SGA, Buildings and Grounds, Public Safety, and numerous hard-working volunteers, Birthday Ball was a success. Gordon said, “I could not have done it without Heather Morris, Kellyanne Ford, Kelsey McCurdy, the rest of the SEB Executive Board, and the countless volunteers who came in to help. I hope everyone had a wonderful time, and I can’t wait for next year.”