Univeristy expects 5,000 to 6,000 at Colonials Weekend

University officials expect about 5,000 to 6,000 parents and alumni to congregate on campus to attend the more than 80 events associated with this year’s Colonials Weekend.

Rodney Johnson, GW’s director of freshman and parent services, said he hopes the weekend will be as successful as planned.

“It’s imperative we do a good job to let them come out of it with a positive and fun experience,” Johnson said.

The weekend’s main attractions include “Daily Show” anchor Jon Stewart, who will be performing at the Smith Center Friday night at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., and the Boston Pops, performing at 9:30 p.m. in the Smith Center Saturday. Peter Konwerski, assistant to the senior vice president of Student and Academic Support Services, said that these two events will be the highlight for most students and visitors.

“The opportunity to bring nationally renowned names to campus … in a fun and relaxed atmosphere … builds a sense of community, which, I feel, is the best part of the weekend,” he said.

Johnson said a lot of long-term planning goes into deciding what types of events to offer during Colonials Weekend that would suit students, parents and alumni.

“The first thing you try to do is get entertainment that parents and alumni will both enjoy,” Johnson said. “We have a task force and executive group comprised of people from every part of the University working to make it happen.”

Among other events taking place throughout the weekend include a book signing by journalist Cokie Roberts and her husband, professor Steve Roberts; musical performances in Kogan Plaza; a professor-led lecture series; trolley and horse-and-buggy tours; women’s soccer games; and several class reunions. The events and activities will be held on both the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses.

Valoree Vargo, GW’s executive director of advancement, communications and events, said the University will be hosting a variety of outdoor events during the day Saturday, including Colonials Village, which will take place on H Street, between 21st and 22nd streets. The roads will be closed off so that families, students and alumni will be able to mingle and enjoy student entertainment, political debates, hospitality tents and food.

Kogan Plaza will be outfitted to exude a fair-like atmosphere featuring popcorn, concerts and information booths run by school organizations, Vargo said. The lecture series, which takes place on Saturday from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m., will range in topic including Freemasonry, politics, economics, art, medicine and space.

“We also knew that from the past that the lecture series are very popular, so we tried to have more modern lectures on topics including one on secret societies … and another on the dramatic symbolism of modern art,” she said.

At the Mount Vernon Campus Saturday, parents and alumni can celebrate Octoberfest, featuring food, games, arts and crafts, and fall desserts from 3 to 6 p.m. The campus will also be hosting a family dinner for Mount Vernon Campus residents and families until 9 p.m.

Johnson said he is looking forward to a Rock Creek Cemetery Tour on Sunday, which will highlight the historic statues that mark the graves of 19th century upper class Washingtonians.

Vargo said she expects many alumni to return to campus for class reunion events. Alumni from the classes of 1980, 1995 and 2000 will be present to reunite with former classmates on campus.

“I’m excited that we have such a great turnout for the reunions,” she said. “It’s the first time we’re making it such a big thing.”

Colonials Weekend is a relatively new event on GW’s campus. Johnson said that before the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, the school hosted two separate events, one for alumni, and one for students’ families to bring parents and alumni to campus in the fall. The week after the attacks the alumni event was cancelled and the University decided to combine the two, creating the first Colonials Weekend.

“The reason it’s so important is that it’s the only weekend in the fall where we invite parents, family and alumni back to GW.” He said.

For a full schedule of this weekend’s events, visit http://gwired.gwu.edu/parents/ColonialsWeekend/Schedule.

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