There is a lot of anticipation surrounding Winter Fantasia this year. People are excited for Hope’s signature winter formal, of course, but nobody knows exactly what it will look like yet. When is it? What is the theme going to be? What is the dress code? And, perhaps most importantly, will there be free food?
“I think there’s a lot to be excited about,” says Maddelyn Janusch (‘24).
Janusch works as co-director for events for the Student Activities Committee, the group responsible for planning student activities. The Student Activities Committee, or SAC, handles everything from small get-togethers such as movie nights and coffeehouses to large scale events such as Hope’s Winter Fantasia and Spring Fling.
The committee is led by a team of directors with specialized positions such as social media director and director of logistics. The directors work alongside core members, responsible for event planning, and a social media team handling publicity.
Almost every member of SAC was involved in the planning process of Winter Fantasia. To prepare, SAC spent one of their meetings doing nothing but brainstorming themes and creating vision boards. Core members drafted ideas before running it through the director team. What was the final result?
“[Everyone was] on the same page about disco balls being the center of decoration,” says Janusch, adding that members were “so passionate” about the theme that it seemed like the only option.
SAC will be giving their 70’s makeover to the Amway Grand, a luxury hotel and convention center located in downtown Grand Rapids. The Grand’s multiple large ballrooms will be more than able to house the hundreds of Hope college students expected to show up, even while covered floor to ceiling in glitter and decoration. SAC will be providing buses to and from the event for students without access to vehicles.
This year won’t be the first time that the Amway Grand has hosted Winter Fantasia. In 2020, the class of ‘23 were able to have their freshman year Winter Fantasia at the exact same venue. Then, just a month later, COVID-19 shut everything down. Sophia Lupini (‘23), is the Social Media and publicity director for SAC. She recalls enjoying the event in 2020, but being disappointed in 2021 when quarantine guidelines canceled the dance.
2022 was an equally rough year for Winter Fantasia. “We were going to have the dance at the Amway Grand,” says Lupini, but a spike in COVID cases made such an event unsafe. Instead, SAC hosted only the dinner portion of the night in Cook Hall, an experience Lupini describes as “[taking] all the good stuff out of Winter Fantasia.” Without the dance, the event was simply missing its magic.
There is a silver lining, however, to the unfortunate cancellations of the 2021 and 2022 dances. SAC has total creative liberty when designing the Winter Fantasia because most of the student body, including all but two SAC members, have no idea what the event is “supposed” to look like. The door is wide open for out-of-the-box ideas and a total redesign of what Winter Fantasia can be. “We’re… thinking really, really big right now,” says Lupini.
As a result, Winter Fantasia will not be your typical formal. Sure, it will have all the classic components. There will be a dance floor, with music provided by Ace Wedding DJs, a company that specializes in live mixing and is incredibly well reviewed. There will also be catering, a cross between “sweet treats” and “appetizer-esque” dinner according to Lupini, as well as a 360 photo booth.
However, this year’s Winter Fantasia will also include a collection of relaxed activities. There will be a quieter space for people to hang out with cards and games provided in case anyone is overstimulated by all the dancing. The goal is to create “an event for everyone,” says Lupini. Even for those who do not enjoy dancing, there will still be something for them at Winter Fantasia.
Having so many things going on at once does present some challenges logistically. SAC will be ordering decorations right up until the night of the event. However, even under the pressure, neither Janusch nor Lupini are worried about setting everything up on time. “I have so much confidence in our team,” says Janusch, “[and] am truly pumped for what’s in store.”
Winter Fantasia will take place Friday, February 24th starting at 8pm., and will run until 11p.m. Ticket sales will be open soon for anyone looking to secure their spot. Admissions will be $12 online, but will rise to $15 at the door, so it is advised to purchase in advance.