GW celebrates George Washington’s 278th birthday

In celebration of the University’s namesake’s 278th birthday, students gathered in the Marvin Center Continental Ballroom to enjoy makeshift s’mores and cherry cobbler, while a projection screen played video of a bonfire and a fife and drum corps set the mood.

It was the fourth year in a row that George Washington’s birthday celebration was held inside due to inclement weather, once again nixing the University’s plans to roast marshmallows on an open fire in University Yard. Despite being moved inside, the celebration pressed on, featuring music from Colonial Brass, appearances by the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and the annual cherry pie-eating contest, a crowd favorite.

Eight students competed in the pie-eating contest, which ultimately resulted in a tie. Juniors Joe Bellew and Ashley Starks claimed victory in the contest, which required each contestant eat as much cherry pie as possible in two minutes and 22 seconds, in honor of Washington’s birthday.

“It’s my proudest accomplishment at GW,” Bellew said. “Really. I had no real strategy. I just kind of spread the wealth. I didn’t concentrate on one piece of the pie. I concentrated on the pie as a whole. And that’s how I’m here.”

Starks said her focus was on the cherry center of the pie, rather than the crust, which “bogs you down.”

“It was the best competition of my life,” Starks said. “When I was in the pie, it was up my nose, it was coming around to my ears, but I just kept pulling through and it felt good to get the win.”

After the contest, the fife and drum corps led those gathered in a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” as Student Association President Julie Bindelglass lit candles atop a cherry pie.

“I think it’s always great to remind everyone about our University’s namesake, to get people to see the spirit that goes behind the Colonials as they go out on the court or out on the field. It’s a great event to have fun and remember why we’re here,” Bindelglass said.

Juniors Charlotte Schou and Amy Videtto attended the event – which was the kickoff for “Homecoming Week 2010” that will feature four GW men’s and women’s basketball games in the Smith Center – for the first time. Both said they hope to see the event held outdoors next year, their senior year, in order to attract more students.

“I think it raises some needed school spirit because a lot of people don’t think GW has any school spirit,” Schou said.

Bindelglass echoed the wish to see the event held in University Yard next year.

“I am hoping by the time I graduate, I will get to see an outdoor bonfire,” Bindelglass said. “That is all I am hoping for. I keep trying and every time, Mother Nature doesn’t seem to agree with me.”

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