On a typical day, GW students go to Union Station to see a movie or go shopping. But Saturday night, the floor of Union Station was closed to the public as the 2000 graduates celebrated with family and friends at Monumental Celebration.
The University-sponsored event that sold over 3,000 tickets included magicians, face drawings, food and drinks. Big and Little George also attended the event, taking pictures with future graduates.
A band played in a side room, where many families could be seen dancing with one another. Parents sang along to songs like Old Time Rock and Roll, I Will Survive and YMCA.
(Monumental Celebration) is one of those things you have to do, senior Julie Hoebel said. Everyone gets all dressed up and doesn’t know what to do with themselves . until they get some drinks in them and then they start dancing.
Cathleen Hoebel, Julie’s mother, said the University did a good job arranging a celebration that the whole family could enjoy.
I think a lot of colleges don’t do this kind of thing, she said. It’s a good way to get all the generations together.
The event was compared to a high school prom, as many men wore tuxedos and women donned long, glamorous dresses.
Union Station is so beautiful tonight, graduate Meg Dougherty said. I feel like I’m at my prom again.
A magician worked through the crowd, wowing guests as he shuffled an invisible deck of cards.
Later he bent spoons in half as they sat on a table. Dougherty closed her eyes and held a spoon in her hand to take part in a magic trick. As Alan, the magician, methodically moved his hands around Dougherty’s, she swore his hands were brushing hers. When she opened her hands, the spoon was twisted.
Many students agreed that Monumental Celebration was a delightful way to bring both their friends and family together.
It’s a nice way for families to hang out, Dougherty said. I got a chance to meet and spend time with all of my friends’ parents. If the University didn’t hold this event, all of my friends would have been dispersed throughout the city.
Rob Kurkjiau, whose daughter Melissa graduated Sunday, said the event was great for families.
All I keep thinking is that I’m too young to have a daughter graduating college, he said. I’m so proud of her, especially for graduating in three years.
Graduate Stephanie Bascug brought eight members of her family to Monumental Celebration. While spending the majority of the evening on the dance floor with her family, she showcased a balloon hat from a clown at the event.
Although graduate Dev Karna’s parents did not come to Monumental Celebration because they were attending a wedding, he said he still managed to have a good time with friends.
It’s everything I expected, he said.
Throughout the night at Union Station, families and friends could be seen schmoozing with each other.
I really enjoyed myself tonight, and I think that most families did as well, Frank Cerullo said. It’s nice to see people here that I have gone to school with for the past four years and don’t have the opportunity to see on a daily basis.
Cerullo will be attending graduate school at GW next year, working toward an Information Systems Development degree.
Former Student Association President Phil Meisner talked shop with graduate Senator J.P. Blackford (SEAS) and SA presidents from the past decade.
Meisner said all of the past SA presidents had dinner the night before with President Steven Joel Trachtenberg, a tradition they started about eight years ago.
Most students were nostalgic as the night came to a close.
I feel like I just moved into Thurston Hall, said Davina Beckar, who was dancing with her father throughout the night.
The entire concept of graduation is scary, she said. I will be staying in D.C. (after graduation) and this is the last time the whole family will be together.
Beckar will be working as a financial analyst at Fanny Mae after graduation.
By the night’s end, almost all of the guests found their way to the dance floor, jumping up and down to the last song of the night – Chumbawomba’s Irish drinking song Tubthumping.
-Russ Rizzo contributed to this report.