D.C. Diary: October abandon

Give college students free pumpkins – like at the Program Board’s Oktoberfest at Kogan Plaza Saturday afternoon – and watch their faces light up. Offer them those super-sharp-but-safe-for-children knives and watch the orange pumpkin goop fly. It’s adorable. Just stay out of the line of fire.

College students just don’t get to carve pumpkins all that often, junior Julie Wang said. I think we’re just fascinated.

The amateur carving artist, who fashioned one goggle-eyed jack-o-lantern, was hardly alone. Many GW students defied the first chill of winter to descend on the free pumpkin patch at Oktoberfest.

It reminds me of my youth, said junior Stephanie Weinstein. Except when I was little, I wasn’t allowed to touch the knife.

Youthful flashbacks weren’t the only attraction at the German-inspired autumn bash. Students said they were immediately attracted to what seemed to be – from far away at least – kegs.

And they were. Kegs of root beer to be exact, served in too-cute, yellow, plastic beer mugs, inscribed with the words Know your limit.

Five hundred of these GW freebies came courtesy of the Substance Abuse Prevention Center, which co-sponsored Oktoberfest with PB.

We’ve been trying to get involved with events throughout campus this week in honor of National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, said student Matthew Patashnick, who works as an office assistant with the center.

Apparently authentic Oktoberfests, still the rage throughout Germany and Austria, are quite another story. Professional Alpine Dancers and fest-enthusiasts, Miles Hamby and Katherine Dols, explained that the typically alcohol-drenched celebrations grew out of wedding feasts for early 19th century nobility. The most famous one, held every year at the Hoffbrau Haus in Munich, lasts two months.

There’s not much dancing, Hamby said. Just a lot of drinking beer.

But Hamby and Dols, members of the Alpine Dancers, came to GW’s party to put their heels to the pavement, so to speak. About a dozen members of their lively group performed and taught traditional German folk dances to students at Oktoberfest.

Carol Traxler, who heads the troupe with her Austrian-born husband Herbert, said the students weren’t too shabby for their first time.

They were very enthusiastic, quick learners, said Traxler, who scooped up nervous students onto the impromptu dance floor. It’s easy to enjoy this type of dance. It is very flirtatious.

Second-year graduate student Victor Ecarma said he was skeptical of dancing at first, but once I started, I just kept going.

The positive student reaction was good news to Jessica Love, the event’s organizer. The PB arts chairwoman fluttered from pumpkin patch to bratwurst cookout, urging everyone to eat up and quelling emerging disasters. Besides some initial trouble with the speaker system, problems were mercifully few.

It was great to learn so much about German culture, she said. I just hope someone eats all of these bratwursts. ?? ? ? ?? ?? ??? ? ?

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