Classic Signals: College holds holiday feast

By Elise Schoening
Review Editor

Every week, Review Editor Elise Schoening hits the archives and finds old Signals that relate to current College topics and top stories.

The College shut down all residence and dining halls early Wednesday, Nov. 25, for Thanksgiving break. Students packed their bags and headed home to feast with their families. In 2004, however, the College hosted a “Thanks for Giving” feast for current students and alumni. The community event dates back to the 1950s and was brought back in 2004 for the College’s 150th anniversary.

College employees and alumni dress up for Thanksgiving dinner. (Elise Schoening / Review Editor)
College employees and alumni dress up for Thanksgiving dinner. (Elise Schoening / Review Editor)

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 don’t really 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 p.m. to 8 p.m. dinner hours.

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 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.”