By Brooke Schultz
Birthday Ball is an annual dance hosted in the spring semester to celebrate George Washington’s birthday in style, and the theme for this year is sure to make it an enchanting event.
The Student Events Board (SEB) hosts the dance, and it takes place in the Johnson Fitness Center (JFC), which SEB decorates to match the student nominated and voted-on theme. The student population picked the theme Narnia this year, which was announced at Homecoming.
Birthday Ball is WC’s biggest annual dance event in the JFC, and is decorated with lights, shades, couches, and tables, which SEB spends the week setting up for and cleaning up after.
The event draws in students, alumni, faculty, and students’ friends or dates from other schools. After a night of dancing, a free buffet breakfast is offered in Hodson Hall until 2 a.m.
Kellyanne Ford, assistant director of Student Engagement, has been working in her current position for two years. Ford is also an alumna of the College, and was involved with SEB throughout her four years, so this will be her sixth Birthday Ball.
Throughout her time here, the themes have varied from Alice in Wonderland in 2011, Great Gatsby in 2012, The Wizard of Oz in 2013, Harry Potter in 2014, and most recently, Mardi Gras in 2015.
“Every year, the themes play a huge role in turning the field house into an elaborate and over-the-top event space. I am always astonished at how much drapes and lighting can change the space,” Ford said.
Throughout the history of Birthday Ball, the way the designated theme is decided changes year by year. Previously, SEB would try to get ideas from the student body to see what themes people were thinking about. In the most recent years, SEB has held a vote for the whole student body.
“I think this process will continue to change because it is a smaller dedicated group of students that actually plan this event and have complete artistic control over it, so I would love to see them have more input on what the theme actually is, since they are the ones bringing them to life,” Ford said.
Senior Shana Brouder is one of the students who is bringing Birthday Ball to life with her committee in SEB. Brouder has been a part of the committee since she was a freshman, but was shortly after given directorship that handles more than Birthday Ball.
“In picking a theme, we attempt to get as much student feedback as possible while trying to envision primarily what the space would look like. We always want to make sure we have a theme with a wide enough range where we can truly transform the JFC into something special,” Brouder said.
For this year’s Narnia-themed Birthday Ball, SEB is still in the beginning stages of planning what the space will look like.
“Judging from some initial conversations over this I know the space will be completely transformed,” Ford said. “They are really going to focus on the details to bring everyone through the wardrobe and into the grand and magical land of Narnia.”
Brouder’s favorite theme so far was Harry Potter because of the attention to detail. “It was a true transformation of the space from the larger elements to the tiniest of details,” she said.
Birthday Ball will be on Saturday, Feb. 20 this year, and Ford also added that it will “take a village” to make the dance happen.
“From all of the time consuming planning of the event, to the actual running of the event, every single person that volunteers their time and energy to help make this event successful year after year should be applauded,” Ford said, especially thanking the faculty and staff who volunteer their time throughout the long night.
“Birthday Ball is always a grand fiasco that in the end turns out to be fantastic each year,” she said.
By Brooke Schultz