Occurring only once every three years during the week of Feb. 17, Charter Day Ball is one of Miami University’s most cherished and long-standing traditions. Dating all the way back to 1976, the formal affair brings together a multitude of people from the Miami community, including students, faculty and alumni.
Senior Alexandra Bartkoske attended the last Charter Day Ball as a freshman in 2018 and says it was one of the most fun and memorable nights of her college career.
“It was like college prom,” Bartkoske said. “There was a DJ and raffles, and I spent the entire night dancing with my friends.”
Like many other events in 2021, however, Charter Day Ball looks a little different this year. It will be an interactive, virtual event occurring Saturday, April 17.
For nearly a year now, the students of the Miami University (MU) Traditions organization have been working hard to figure out a safe and enjoyable way to keep the tradition of celebrating the founding of the university alive.
However, the students of MU Traditions did not want this to be just another Zoom video call. They want to make this event something that will be a reminder of the strength and dedication of the Miami community.
Titled “Masterpiece,” the virtual event will be centered around an artistic, Met Gala-inspired theme. The hope is to be able to include recorded performances from Miami a cappella groups, feature student artists and their work, and have a virtual walk-through of the Miami University Art Museum located on Western Campus.
“We want this event to feel similar to a Rockin’ New Year’s Eve Special, and spotlight student groups as well as performers including a comedian, a magician, and even a speed painter,” said junior Anikka Cook, the current entertainment chair for Charter Day Ball in MU traditions.
The coordinators of the event also hope to raise money to benefit art programs in the Talawanda School District.
In order to maintain the theme of the event while following COVID-19 guidelines, Miami students will have the option to purchase a decorations box from MU Traditions so they can decorate their house, apartment or residence hall to match the theme of the ball as they tune in.
“Whether you wear your fanciest dress or your fanciest PJs, we just want everyone to have a good time and celebrate the Miami community,” said senior Halle Campbell, executive co-chair of MU Traditions.
For some students, the 2021 event would have been their only opportunity to attend a Charter Day Ball, and it seems that for many students, the ball has been overshadowed by the whirlwind of the pandemic. Some students, like freshman Maddie Lumelleau, were completely unaware that the ball even existed in the first place.
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“I had heard the words ‘Charter Day Ball,’ but I was never familiar with exactly what it was,” Lumelleau said.
The freshmen class has already had to work through an extremely untraditional and challenging transition to college, and Charter Day Ball is another in-person event they have had to miss out on.
Regardless, MU Traditions does not want students to have to miss out on yet another Miami experience due to the pandemic. They are utilizing social media platforms to spread the word about the alternative plans, as well as trying to involve student organizations to try to reach as many people as possible.
“Being here means you are a Miamian,” Campbell said.