Mary Grace von Thron, Campus Carrier deputy news editor
On Sept. 2, The Berry Office of Alumni Relations announced that all alumni related Mountain Day activities will be done virtually.
Maddie Miller, assistant director for Alumni Events and Special Programs said that the Alumni Office began making plans for a possible virtual Mountain Day in the summer.
“Starting the summer, we had a plan if it were to go virtual at that point because we weren’t sure it [the COVID-19 pandemic] was still going to be here in October, but it definitely was still in our minds that we need to have an in person plan and a virtual plan, which was the case for almost all events because COVID-19 could have been cleared up by summer” Miller said.
Because of this current uncertainty of what the fall would look like in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Berry Alumni Office has spent their time focusing on constructing several different plans for Mountain Day.
“It’s really been about not having a plan A and a plan B but really just having two plan A’s and two plan B’s for completely different situations,” Miller said.
In an effort for alumni to still have a piece of Mountain Day with them, the Alumni Office came up with an idea of creating “Mountain Day in a Box.”
“We didn’t want just a hodgepodge of random stuff in the box, so we decided to go with a picnic theme” said Miller.
The box will various contain items that can be related back to Mountain Day festivities, such as a recipe card for the barbeque that is served on Mountain Day during the Grand March, as well as a picnic blanket and Mountain Day themed cups. Alumni will be able to take a picture of themselves with the items from their Mountain Day in a Box and post it on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtags #cupcakesforMartha or #mtnday20 to enter a contest to win prizes including Old Mill mugs, a Victor the Viking plush toy, and a secret prize that will be revealed on Mountain Day. Alumni will be able to do this on Oct. 10 in order to enter the social media competition.
By making Mountain Day virtual, Miller said that the Alumni Office reach alumni that usually participate in alumni activities as well as alumni that do not usually partake in alumni activities.
“I know a lot of people cannot make it to Mountain Day because they live out of state or they can’t travel because of work and stuff like that,” Miller said. “We’ll reach a whole new audience of alumni with virtual Mountain Day but also have alumni that do come to Mountain Day every year and make it a tradition. We’re very much trying to keep the tradition alive for those who always celebrate and maybe start a new tradition for those who don’t.”
According to Miller, the announcement of and plans for a virtual Mountain Day have been received well by alumni. As she explains, they generally understand and are aware that there is an international pandemic and that gathering together in large groups is not recommended by professionals, which would make traditional Mountain Day activities and reunions unpractical and unsafe.
“Most of the responses we’ve gotten have been very grateful that we are still trying to carry on Mountain Day and we’re trying to do something for our alumni because a lot of schools have just said ‘no, we’re just not having anything,’” Miller said. “ We don’t know how to do an event this large online.’”
Many members of the Berry alumni community are interested and have expressed excitement to participate in the virtual activities. However, some alumni such as David Allen, class of 2020, are not planning on participating in the virtual Mountain Day festivities this year.
“I think that they’re doing the best they can, but because it’s virtual it makes me a lot less interested in doing something with it just because I am tired of virtual stuff,” Allen said.
There will be several activities for alumni to get involved in on Mountain Day, ranging from Mountain Day trivia to a lecture on the history of Mountain Day.
As students are able to participate in Mountain Day activities that have been altered due to COVID-19 on campus, alumni can still participate and engage through the Office of Alumni Relations throughout the week. To view the virtual Mountain Day schedule, order Mountain Day merchandise and connect with other Berry community members, alumni can go to the Always Berry Alumni website.