GW preps for Colonials Weekend

Colonials Weekend organizers anticipate this year’s festivities will draw about 7,000 parents, siblings, friends and alumni to campus. If projections are correct, the 2004 Colonials Weekend will surpass previous year’s attendance figures by several thousand.

Headlining Colonials Weekend this year are performances by soul singer Patti LaBelle and comedian Dana Carvey. The three-day event will also feature auctions, guest lectures, brunches and tours of University facilities.

Tickets for Patti LaBelle and Dana Carvey went on sale at Colonial Inauguration for $35 for students and $45 for general admission. Seats for Saturday night’s Dana Carvey performance are sold out, but tickets are still available for Patti LaBelle’s concert at the Smith Center Friday night.

Tickets for the LaBelle concert became available to the public during the last week in September to balance revenue goals. In the past, this has been standard procedure for GW-sponsored events that do not initially sell out, said Peter Konwerski, assistant to the senior vice president of Student and Academic Support Services.

“We always want to make the most of a show like this, so if we end up with a few hundred local people in a mostly GW show, we know that it helps us balance our books and come in at the budget we plan for,” Konwerski said.

Konwerski said he is pleased with the performers chosen for Colonials Weekend despite the unsold tickets.

“While we would be happy to have Patti sell out, we have a final (public relations) push this week, particularly to encourage students and student organizations to purchase (tickets) on Colonial Cash, and to promote the event to local GW staff who may have an interest in Patti,” Konwerski said.

Edward “Skip” Gnehm, former United States ambassador to Kuwait and Shapiro Professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs, will be on hand along with President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg to welcome guests on Saturday morning.

An addition to the schedule of events is Colonials Village, which will take place in Kogan Plaza from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Visitors and students will have the chance to stop by University and student organization hospitality tents and see an exhibit featuring images of GW throughout the past 100 years.

Colonials Weekend began in 2002, when the University combined Parents Weekend and Alumni Weekend. After the cancellation of Alumni Weekend shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, University officials decided to merge the two events into one weekend.

“It’s really important to bring students, alumni, families and friends together to interact with one another and enjoy GW and Washington, D.C.,” said Director of Parent Services Rodney Johnson. “Having students and their families interact with alumni is a good idea that we continue to build on.”

Johnson also noted that this weekend is the halfway point between move-in and the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It’s the right time to have parents come to the University, especially parents of freshmen. It’s important for them to see how the students have settled in,” Johnson said.

While many of the guests are parents of freshmen and sophomores, Johnson said he has seen an increasing number of upperclassmen’s parents return to campus in recent years.

A Colonials Weekend task force, comprised mainly of officials from Parent Services and Alumni Relations, helps guests receive special rates on local hotels and oversees decisions about the time and location of entertainment on the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses. SASS oversees the entertainment selection.

Students involved with the Program Board and the Student Activities Center are consulted about entertainment decisions.

Konwerski said, “We always try to provide a combination of performances that meet the diverse interests of students, parents, and alumni, coupled with a variety of music, comedy or other variety that appeals to our community.”

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