The Evolution of Marthapalooza Since 2005

Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier features editor

Kelsee Brady, Campus Carrier asst. features editor

The “Let The Good Times Roll” poster is from the 2015 Marthapalooza. Photo courtesy of Cecily Crow

Marthapalooza will be celebrating its 14th anniversary this year. The relatively young event has not always appeared the way it does today. Chief of Staff Debbie Heida worked with Director of Student Activities Cecily Crow to create the event in 2005. Crow said Marthapalooza was created as a safer alternative to the annual off-campus party called the field party.

“It (Marthapalooza) was created to solve a problem,” Heida said. “Shortly after I arrived, then President Colley asked me what I was going to do to solve the problem of the field party.”

According to Heida, the field party was thrown off campus and entirely organized by Berry College students. The party became a concern when the number of DUIs and sexual assault reports began to increase. Heida said that was when President Colley asked her to help resolve the issue.

“I had said to Dr. Colley, ‘my training tells me and experience tells me that you don’t solve a problem by shutting something down, particularly since it’s not our event,’” Heida said. “‘It happens entirely independently of the college. So, the only way you combat a problematic event is if you create something that’s more attractive for students to come to.’”

After that, Heida said her and Crow brought together a group of student leaders on campus to create an event that would be more attractive.

With a budget of $15,000, the first Marthapalooza was planned in about six weeks, Crow said.

2019 Poster copy.jpg
The “Camp Palooza” poster is from the 2019 Marthapalooza.

“We planned it and had, more so, inflatable games,” Crow said. “Things like that, maybe a small ride or two. We had some student bands and free food.”

Crow said that as the years passed, there were some changes to the Marthapalooza event. For example, she said the committee’s budget increased and student organizations began to work booths. Heida said that another change was that recent alumni were able to attend after the second year.

Student Chair of the Marthapalooza Committee Hannah Norman said the first Marthapalooza event was hosted around the Ford Complex, near the admissions archway. Rather than Clara Bowl, Norman said that the event did not originally need that much outdoor space.

Norman said that after the event began to introduce more roller coasters, they eventually moved the location. Now, she said they usually have around six to seven roller coasters featured at the event such as the traditional Ferris wheel. She said that some rides may change throughout the years, but the committee tries to have the same number each year.

“We generally have the same rides, or we will switch a couple of them out each year,” Crow said. “Gravitron is really popular. We try to have a few slower rides like the swings. This year, we brought back the Giant Slide.”

According to Crow, the rides are a majority of the budget. Since 2015, Crow said it costs about $40,000 out of their $50,000 budget for about six to seven rides. Crow said that it does not leave a lot of money left for other entertainment. So, she said using money from sales also contributes to their budget.

“It is about a $60,000 event,” Crow said. “Money made in t-shirt sales and ticket sales helps pay from some of the event too. What we don’t want to do is just keep adding more and more money to it. We could do additional things, but sometimes the more money you have, you lose a little creativity.”

The “Wild West” poster is from the 2014 Marthapalooza. 

According to Norman, the members begin meeting in April to discuss the upcoming Marthapalooza. After April, the committee then meets after the summer break and begin to put the event together.

“Every year, we try to get a good range of all years for our committee, so we are able to see different perspectives and what we would like from each group,” Norman said.

This year, Norman said the theme for Marthapalooza is “Summer Camp.” So, she said the committee is trying to get entertainment that revolves around that theme. For example, she said the event will have archery games.

“Every year, based on the theme, we try and have cooler entertainment options,” Norman said. “Like this year, we are having a rock-wall. That is something we have never really done before.”

Also, Norman said that the senior fast passes, which allow them to bypass rollercoaster lines, this year will not will not apply to every ride. Norman said that the passes will apply to rides such as the Flying Dutchman, Zoomer, Tornado and the Ring of Fire.

The “Vote Marthapalooza” poster is from the 2008 Marthapalooza.

Marthapalooza will occur from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Oct. 5. Students can get a free wristband with their student i.d. from the Krannert information desk which will act as a ticket.

Leave a Reply