Families celebrate Colonials Weekend

Thousands of families took advantage of the crisp fall weather to explore campus and the city as part of the 10th annual Colonials Weekend.

Starting Friday afternoon, parents, family members and alumni descended on Foggy Bottom for more than 60 events hosted by the Office of Parent Services.

Sophomore Chris Welch said he and his parents, who traveled from Massachusetts, joined large crowds Sunday morning at the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial dedication on the National Mall.

For Welch, the best part of the weekend was seeing Bill Maher at the campus restaurant Kinkead’s Saturday night after his performance.

“I love Bill Maher. It was so cool to see him,” Welch said.

At an official welcoming ceremony in Lisner Auditorium Saturday, University President Steven Knapp thanked parents for being involved in their students’ education.

Knapp updated parents on construction and big campus events – both planned and unplanned – like the Freshmen Day of Service, Hurricane Irene and the earthquake.

Knapp also underlined community service as one of the University’s core values, demonstrated by the largest turnout for the Freshman Day of Service since it was created in 2009.

“What really matters is not just the experience we provide of having a front-row seat to the theater of history, but there are opportunities to engage in the community,” Knapp said.

Rodney Johnson, executive director of the Office of Parent Services, which planned the weekend, said he was pleased to see families enjoying themselves around campus.

“We want you to be a part of our University,” Johnson told the hundreds of parents in the audience.

A University spokeswoman was unable to provide an attendance number by press time.

For the second year in a row, former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg drew about two dozen parents and students to his “Classes from GW’s Best.” This year, his presentation evaluated GW since 9/11.

“It’s important to remember who pays the bill,” Trachtenberg said. “Not all the students are rich at GW; some parents have to make a great sacrifice, and we want them to think that it is a good one.”

At 8:21 pm Friday night, when lights began flashing and fog filled the Smith Center, the raucous crowd rose to their feet as the men’s and women’s basketball teams stormed the court to officially usher in the 2011 to 2012 season.

Colonials Invasion, GW’s version of Midnight Madness, celebrated the official beginning of the basketball season, giving the fans a first look at the upcoming year. University President Steven Knapp kicked off the celebrations with a speech in which he declared the Smith Center as a “beacon in the Foggy Bottom community.”

Then the lights dimmed – and amid smoke, strobes and music, members of both teams were introduced to the crowd, running through lighted archways to line up on the court. It was the first glimpse at the 2011 to 2012 Colonials, and the fans cheered loudly as the players ran out.

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