Students stepped off the shuttle into the grand reception area of the Amway Grand Hotel at the 2020 Winter Fantasia event that kicked off the month of February. A few wandered, looking around the large room with gargantuan chandeliers until they followed the slowly-growing stream of people down a hall, up a staircase and down a few more twists and turns into the large ballroom. After shuffling off their coats, some made a beeline for the refreshment table, where they could enjoy mega-cookies thicker than their hands. Others headed straight for the dance floor to jam out to their favorite songs. The line for the photo booth soon trailed across the room. Laughter could be heard as a six-person group tried to fit all faces onto the screen, with mixed success. Those who wanted to escape the rush could show off their swing dancing skills to the tune of a nearby jazz group performing at a restaurant. People began to trickle out at around 11:30, and the 12:30 bus ride home was notably quieter than the way there. However, there was a sense of tired satisfaction. For many, the glittering chandeliers, nice dresses and delectable treats were a welcome break from the dreary, gray school days of midwinter.
The food was a main attraction. A sophomore commented that her only regret last year had been deciding not to eat one of the gargantuan sugar cookies. This year she was excited to redeem her mistake. The quesadillas were also a hit. On the dance floor, some of the more hardcore students jammed out in the middle, while others formed groups on the sidelines. Deborah Blackmon (’22) said that her favorite part of this year’s dance was “how much space there was to be able to spread out and jam with your group without being caught in the mosh pit.”
Winter Fantasia was put on by Hope’s Student Activities Committee (SAC), which plans, organizes and oversees a variety of events each semester. They try to provide different events and activities for students to attend on various Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Events put on by SAC draw more than 11,000 participants each year. Winter Fantasia is one of the two biggest occasions, along with Fall Fest. SAC events can be found on the Hope website and also are posted on the SAC Instagram and Facebook pages. Additionally, there are various posters and signs around campus every week advertising SAC events. As well as weekend events, the Committee puts on Coffeehouse each Thursday in the Bultman Student Center, where students can go to study and listen to live music performed by their peers. Notable events put on by SAC last semester included two different comedians, a late night roller skating party and a movie in the Pine Grove. SAC also puts on a yearly concert series, which last semester included artists such as Matt Kearney and J.S. Ondara.
For those looking for a way to get through the monotony that winter can bring, SAC has an exciting lineup of events for Spring 2020. For those interested in films, the environment or both, two different sustainability-focused films will be shown on February 25 and March 31. The February film, “Merchants of Doubt,” describes how corruption in certain high groups of scientists with political connections led to the public being deliberately misled on the dangerous effects of issues such as tobacco, DDT and climate change. For the March film, Disney’s animated movie “Wall-E” will serve as a catalyst for discussions around waste and our environmental future. On March 27, students looking for a refreshing study break can get their hands dirty by planting and painting planting pots at the SAC Planting Party. In recognition of Black History Month, students can come to the Bultman Student Center on February 26 for a screening of “Harriet,” a highly acclaimed movie that came out in November that tells the story of Harriet Tubman’s dangerous escape from slavery and subsequent heroic actions in leading hundreds of escaped slaves to safety. Other notable SAC events this semester include a hypnotist visit on February 15, Trivia Night on February 28 and Spring Fling in the Pine Grove on April 24 to top off the semester. SAC tries to provide a way for students with all kinds of preferences to get involved on campus. It can be a great space to unwind with current friends or meet some new people who you might not come into contact with otherwise. It is a place without judgment for all students, so make sure to check out some SAC events this semester!