On Fri. Feb. 3, while most students were getting out of their last class and beginning their weekend preparations for the Superbowl, the Wheaton’s Athletic Mentors (WAMs) kicked off their seventh annual Big Event weekend. The Big Event worked to reach out to the surrounding Norton community and help promote a sober weekend.
The weekend was promoted with the phrase “Size Matters.” It started out with a round of dodgeball and was followed by a performance by Wheaton’s own Dimple Divers and the comedian Ben Kronenburg. The following day opened the main attraction of the Big Event, the carnival, which featured a full buffet, mechanical bull ride, bouncy gladiatorial combat, an inflatable obstacle course, and a moon bounce. All the proceeds from the carnival were given to the Marly Pineda Memorial Fund, which funds internships in the fields of athletics, coaching and education.
Through the Big Event, the WAMs were trying to achieve an honorable goal of providing family fun for all ages to not only the local Norton community, but also to the Wheaton students. They attempted to demonstrate that fun could be had without the assistance of alcohol, which is a lesson some college students often times forget. However, it came to question whether the weekend of “sober fun” could actually combat the alcohol-induced frenzy of Super Bowl Sunday.
The Super Bowl, which had a record 111 million viewers this past Sunday, caused police departments across the nation to crack down on the increasingly high number of Driving While Intoxicated incidents that occur during and after the biggest game of the year, according to the Associated Press.
There is speculation as to whether the Big Event truly promoted a sober free weekend when in competition with the Super Bowl and its associated parties. The general opinion of the event varied from person to person.
Teikyo Mowchan ’14, previously a Residential Advisor (RA), spoke in favor of the Big Event. “With all of the attraction being offered here in the carnival I am definitely enjoying myself,” he said. “I like the fact that an option is being presented to the students to have a really great time without the need for alcohol.”
Thomas Nagata ’15 had a different view. “I think the Big Event is great but I don’t think it works in promoting sober weekend. If anything, people have told me the idea of a sober weekend increases alcohol consumption.”
Current RA Chase Armstrong ’14 said, “I thought the Big Event was a great change of pace for the weekend. It reminded me of a carnival, and I had a good time running around and acting like a kid again.
“Also, it has an important message,” Armstrong continued. “There is no denying that excessive and underage drinking happens at college, but if everyone can be a little more responsible then it would go a long way to ensuring everybody remains comfortable and safe. And that’s a message worth repeating more often.”
No matter what impact the Big Event had on curbing alcohol consumption on Super Bowl weekend, it remains a great annual event that provides a nice break from the hectic school week for Wheaton students. As Justus Spencer ’15 exclaimed in a fit of joy while gallivanting around the moon bounce, “I love college!”