As part of the College’s Sesquicentennial Celebration, the College reintroduced its “Thanks for Giving” Feast, which last took place during the late 1950s, and prompted the return of several influential alumni.
The feast originally took place in the Hillwood Inn, the College’s old student center, which was located where the Forcina parking garage, Lot 12, currently stands. Female students who lived in Allen Brewster, Ely and Norsworthy Halls, in what was called the Priscilla Procession, dressed in pilgrim costumes and served as hostesses.
“We really don’t know (exactly) when or why the tradition stopped,” Janis Blayne Paul, major events director and chief Sesquicentennial officer, said.
For the modern-day setting in Eickhoff Hall, many of the alumni and current College employees – including Blayne Paul – dressed in pilgrim costumes.
“I’m not one who dresses up for Halloween parties,” Len Tharney, coordinator of Emeriti funding, said “but for this opportunity, I said sure.”
The meal took place a week prior to Thanksgiving, on Nov. 18, between the usually scheduled 4 to 8 p.m. dinner hours.
Hoards of students, many of whom were unaware of the unique dinner, were attracted to the wide variety of foods and desserts.
Pat Coleman-Boatwright, director of College and Community Relations, was quick to praise Sodexho, who catered of the event. Without “their very creative minds,” Boatwright said, (the meal) would not have been possible.
“We had 40 students submit their favorite foods from their own Thanksgiving meals,” Steve Hugg, marketing director of Sodexho, said. Their responses enabled Sodexho to create a more culturally diverse menu, one not consumed solely by the traditional Thanksgiving selections.
In addition to the impressive menu, the “Thanks for Giving” Feast featured turkey carving lessons by Sodexho chefs.
“The sense of commitment at that time – I’m happy to bring it back,” Tharney, a graduate of the College’s Class of 1954, said. “I’m delighted the College made this possible.”
According to Coleman-Boatwright, “There was a disconnection with campus traditions before the Sesquicentennial Celebration. “Everyone searched for ideas, and this was one,” she said.
The Sesquicentennial Celebration was not the only reason for the dinner’s return, though.
“We are always looking for ways to bring the community together,” Blayne Paul said. “With each event, we try to incorporate meaningful traditions. Since it is our 150th (anniversary), this is a wonderful opportunity to bring back lost traditions that were a special part of our history.”