A scaled-back Monumental Celebration drew about half as many people as last year to Union Station Saturday night.
The University reduced the number of tickets to the annual graduation party, which sold out with 1,400 tickets. Earlier this year, administrators had considered eliminating the event because of the increased cost of moving this year’s Commencement to the National Mall from its traditional spot on the Ellipse. Vice President of Communications Mike Freedman said earlier this month that the University was expecting this year’s Commencement ceremony to cost about $150,000 more than past years.
The University also cut costs by reducing the area rented in Union Station by about half. The number of bands and the selection of food were also scaled back to reduce the cost of the event, which ran from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.
“We went lighter on the hors d’oeuvres,” said James Hess, executive director of University events. Some cold finger food and a variety of desserts accompanied cash bars as the party’s refreshments.
Graduating senior Julia Warczyk, who attended the event in 2005, said that some of the cutbacks were noticeable.
“I came here last year, and I can call it ‘Monumental’ last year,” she said. “Not this year.”
Alumnus Jean Resnevic, who was celebrating her sister’s graduation, said she liked the smaller feel of the event compared to the Monumental Celebration for her graduation in 2003, which had about 4,500 guests. Resnevic said she was disappointed with some of this year’s omissions, however, including the Big George mascot and the caricature artists who were part of the celebration three years ago.
Hess said he heard several families complaining about the lack of caricature artists and said the University would consider bringing them back next year.
The two musical groups performing at Monumental were comprised mostly of students. The string trio featured three graduating seniors and a swing band called King James and the Serfs of Swing included about a dozen students.