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Mud, barbeque and college kids are the three components for one notorious weekend.
Festivus, Elon University's annual celebration may sound like a slightly more creative version of a college party, but for many students, it means something more.
Saturday morning, hundreds of Elon students headed to Sheridan to carry on a tradition that began at Elon in 2005. They arrived in clean clothes, but were swiftly pulled into the mud pit at the end of the road. If they needed a break from the madness, they headed to the barbeque to enjoy some roasted pig.
For those Elon students who attended Festivus this past Saturday, they have the 1990’s sitcom Seinfeld to thank for the experience. In an episode of the show, George Costanza’s father, Frank Costanza, becomes disheartened with the commercial aspects of Christmas so he decides to make up his own holiday. “Festivus for the rest of us,” he declares. The students who brought Festivus to Elon named the event after this episode.
“You can’t describe the feeling you get from Festivus,” said junior Ben Karas. “It’s the party of the year.”
Karas is not alone in his appreciation for the event.
“It’s fun because the whole campus comes together,” said senior Lizzie Johnson.
Junior Paul Beatty agrees that Festivus promotes unity on campus.
“It draws people from all spheres of Elon,” said Beatty. “Everyone comes together. Freshman. Seniors. Greeks. Non-Greeks.”
Some students have the misconception that Festivus is a party that was created for non-Greeks. However, this was not the intention of its creators.
Andrew Wilen, 2008 Elon graduate, was instrumental in organizing the first few years of Festivus.
“The goal of this event, aside from having a great time, is to bring people together,” said Wilen. “If I was Peter Pan and still a student, I would make sure that people knew it was for everybody.”
When Wilen was a freshman, a couple of his sophomore friends came up with the idea for Festivus. By Wilen’s junior year, he was hosting Festivus at his house, and by senior year he orchestrated the entire event.
Although the event is by and for students, it does not go unnoticed by the university. On the day of the event, dining halls, classrooms, and dorms sported signs that warned students not to track mud indoors. Professors and faculty members were also warned beforehand.
Michelle Kusel, assisstant director of leadership at Elon, first learned about Festivus from a student a few years back. Kusel is a part of an administrator on-call group that responds to on-campus emergencies.
“A student explained to me what Festivus was and advised me not to choose that weekend to be on call,” said Kusel.
The Elon Police are also well aware of the event. Lieutenant Ring of the Elon Police has been monitoring Festivus since it started nine years ago.
“Our concern is it will get out of hand,” said Ring. “But as long as everyone’s in a good mood, it’ll all be good. Two years ago we had some issues, but so far, we have no complaints. The guys here say they’re gonna clean it up.”
Festivus is a party, yes, but it is unlike any other party at Elon. Once a year, the entire student body is invited to come together and play in the mud. The location may change, but the camaraderie remains the same.