The uproar spread through the room in hurricane fashion – whoops and hollers from the center of the room spiraled outward in contagion, tearing through the room with the cheers of the students who had received the text and well-meaning confusion of those who hadn’t.
JMU will be closed on Friday, 1/22, due to inclement weather.
Despite the impending blizzard, Festival Ballroom was inundated with fresh faces, each belonging to one of two camps. Facing into the walkway were handfuls of students manning trifold boards, mailing lists, and varying degrees of free swag. They wore matching t-shirts, or they didn’t, and they stood proudly beside the people they had come to know as family in the great big world of JMU. The rest were a hodgepodge – some bubbling up to everyone they met, others meandering shyly through the crowd – all of whom in search of somewhere new to belong.
“I came looking for Madison Dance,” said junior vocal performance major Olivia Mullins. “I danced pretty seriously when I was growing up, and it’s been a long time. I ended up checking out Irish Dance club instead, and I’m excited to try something new!”
Some tables handed out flyers quietly to those who approached with interest. Others were more vocal. The shouts and hollers of the Fencing Team could be heard all the way from the door, spear-headed by senior member and SMAD major Mikeala Skelton.
“We’re just hoping to have a decent sized beginner class – we’ve had a couple experienced people come by, but people are usually new to [fencing] altogether,” she explained. “The cool thing about this organization is that it’s almost entirely student-led. The old members pass down everything they know to the new members, and it definitely creates a sense of tradition.”
As the flurry of flyers settled on the end of Student Org Night, students became increasingly aware of one crowd member in particular. UPB employee Katelyn Weeks roamed the ballroom sporting a head-to-toe bacon suit, beckoning one and all to join her for UPB’s Late Night Breakfast as Student Org Night drew to a close.
“This is the second year in a row we’ve been able to pair these two events together,” she said. “People seem to have a really good time!”
And who could blame them? Festival’s sought-after late night snackage was met with a star-studded theme this time around – the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. UPB employees speckled the festivities, handing out little golden Grammys and Oscars at random while the crowd bustled on.
Among the attractions, a voter registration booth sat just outside the dining area, offering students the opportunity to exercise their efficacy and fill out the forms right then and there.
“We started out with about 20 people registered,” said representative David Ferris. “Now we have upwards of 300 students registered to vote!”
Downstairs, the sweet sounds of JMU’s newest a cappella group powered over the chatter as Unaccompanied wowed students with their rendition of Little Mix’s “Wings.” Soloist and music director Emily Veramessa talked about the group’s involvement with UPB functions past and present.
“[UPB] reaches out to us when something like this is going on. We’ve performed at Late Night Breakfast in the past, we just have to make sure enough of us are available to perform. It’s a great opportunity!”
These ladies in lavender have been making music together since 2010, and their gratitude is just contagious.
Upstairs, the line for food swelled as far as the tables would reach, hundreds of students queued up for a heaping plate of tots and bacon, scrambled eggs and French toast sticks dredged in maple syrup. As the line dissolved, people settled in for the meal, joining the friends they came with and the organizations they call family. Festival bubbled over with tired laughter and the contented sighs of full stomachs. In a matter of hours, people had poured into this building in search of something new to call home. And what better for a journey home than a warm and hearty breakfast.