University preps for Colonials Weekend

University officials are busily preparing for about 4,000 outside guests to arrive on campus for this year’s second annual Colonials Weekend. Last year about 3,000 people attended.

Weekend events include a Beach Boys concert Saturday, a Whoopi Goldberg comedy routine Friday and several student organization and departmental reunions and activities.

“Colonials Weekend is a time when parents and families come together and spend time with their students,” said Rodney Johnson, coordinator for this year’s Colonials Weekend.”

The entertainers cost the University a combined $300,000, officials said.

The sold-out Beach Boys concert will feature a dance floor along a beach party theme. Goldberg will do an hour-long comedy act then interact with the audience at the end of the show, said Peter Konwerski, special assistant to the senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services.

This is the Beach Boys’ second time at GW – the band appeared at Parents Weekend in fall 2000.

“We got really lucky with getting the Beach Boys again,” Konwerski said. “They fit that intergenerational feel that we’re looking for.”

About 100 more tickets remain for the Goldberg show, which Konwerski said is likely to sell out. The Smith Center, where both events are being held, can accommodate about 5,000 patrons.

Colonials Weekend started last year when the University combined its Parents and Alumni weekends.

Officials said they sent 20,000 invitations to alumni but only expect 300 to 500 to attend this year’s Colonials Weekend.

Separate Alumni Weekends would draw more than 1,000 alumni each year, said Scott Mory, executive director of advancement and alumni programs.

He said the decline in attendance is a result of the increased number of class reunions last year because of postponed events. The University canceled the 2001 Alumni Weekend because of the September 11 attacks and held more reunions in 2002 to make up for it.

“We had 84 different (class) reunions happening last year, plus 150 student group reunions, while this year we have less than 100 student group reunions and only one set of class reunions,” Mory said.

The Alumni Office will be asking alumni in attendance to complete a survey in an effort to improve future Colonials Weekends. The surveys will be reviewed in the proceeding weeks.

“Colonials Weekend is a developing process,” Mory said, “We’re trying to develop a tradition, but it doesn’t just happen overnight.”

In addition to the Goldberg and Beach Boys performances, University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg will host a welcome event with CNN “Crossfire” host Tucker Carlson Saturday morning. The Mount Vernon Campus will host an Octoberfest activity Saturday afternoon with hayrides and music. A complete schedule of events is posted on the Office of Parent Services Web site at gwired.gwu.edu/parents.

Area businesses are also preparing for Colonials Weekend, one of Foggy Bottom’s busiest times. The George Washington University Inn, Washington Circle Inn and the Ritz Carlton are booked for the weekend.

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