Once again, I was taken aback by the enthusiasm and college pride shown by my fellow Delaware alumni.
Last weekend, the UD Pittsburgh Alumni Club hosted a Blue Hen Picnic event in North Park. As the newly instated Vice President of the club, I had decided back in April or May that this would be the perfect event. I believed that by having a casual summer picnic, we could break away from the happy hour, downtown crowd of the usual events and start to attract new alumni, bring some families out, gain a reputation as a club that has various events for all interests, ages, and life stages.
I figured I could plan a picnic in North Park easily, since my dad had had yearly company picnics there, and growing up, I had loved them. But little did I know how ambitious this plan actually was, especially for an inexperienced board member.
If I had only planned another happy hour…call the restaurant, make a reservation for 20, have the director of Alumni Relations call in a credit card and then watch people show up. Easy. But planning an outdoor picnic…not so easy.
I had to reserve the grove–in person, because they would not take a credit card over the phone. I had to find a caterer and make sure we got a variety of food for meat lovers and vegetarians and kiddies alike. Luckily the caterer that I found had plenty of options that were all included in the price and also brought all plates, utensils and serving spoons needed.
The day before the picnic, I went shopping. I had to get decorations to make a sad-looking, hundred year old structure look fun and inviting. I also had to make sure we had games and fun activities for the kids. I wandered the aisles of Target for an hour, looking for ice buckets, pop and juice boxes, grabbing a football and soccer ball, plastic tablecloths and streamers, dropping whatever I thought might help into the cart.
I was terrified of failure. I prayed for a warm, sunny day, because if it was raining, I was sure no one would come. On the day of the picnic, I made sure to get there early to decorate and set up the tables, get ice for the drinks, and make the final name tags. Luckily, I got some help that day from some awesome new board members.
After the tablecloths were taped down and the ice buckets filled with drinks, we nervously checked our phones. 1:16 PM. No one was there yet. We figured at the very least, the three of us could sit there drinking Bud Light for a few hours and say we had some kind of turn-out.
And then, miraculously, everyone who said they would come came. We met a few high school graduates who will be heading off to our alma mater in the fall and we were able to give them (and their parents) some advice from “back in the day.” There were several more-recent grads who had just moved to Pittsburgh and were happy to meet some friendly faces. We had several families turn up and I was thrilled to see the kids having a great time with the football, soccer ball and frisbees I bought.
Everyone hung out and chatted and loved the food. Everyone was so thankful that I had pulled this all together and given them and their families something to do on a late-summer Saturday. And everyone was truly proud to be a Blue Hen and to have this Delaware family in Pittsburgh.
We met, or almost met, all of our goals–we connected with young families, brought out some kids heading off to Delaware for the first time and welcomed some newcomers to the city. We had more attendees than previous events. And we stayed under-budget. I would venture to say the Blue Hen Picnic was quite a success.
Here’s to many more with a growing group of board members that will hopefully make all of this a little easier.