Celebration Finale: Annual show closes after 40 years

By Taylor Isenberg
News and Opinions Editor

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Celebration, Rochester College’s annual campus-wide variety show, has come to a finale.

Katelyn Hargrave, Student Life office manager who has directed Celebration for four years, said the number of students participating in the show and of those attending the performances has been decreasing over the past decade. She said she has noticed three main reasons for this.

First, the number of social clubs participating in the annual event has been in decline with only two social clubs participating in 2019. With about 50 percent of all students at RC competing on sports teams, many students don’t have the time to belong to a social club or to be involved in other extracurricular activities.

Second, Hargrave said the growth of RC’s theatre program has impacted Celebration. Since many theatre students are committed to a wide number of theatre presentations, they don’t have the time to be active in Celebration. The theatre department has offered five productions in the 2018-19 school year.

Third, the make-up of the college’s student body has changed with 76 percent of undergraduates living off-campus and commuting to campus, according to the 2017-18 Common Data Set. Hargrave said it can be more difficult for commuters to get involved in campus life.

Founded in 1977 to showcase student talent, “Celebration in Song” has been a treasured event for the campus community. “The first annual Celebration showcased the best music and drama talent on campus in a series of mini-plays and excerpts from popular musicals,” according to “The Seasons of Rochester College,” a book created to commemorate the college’s 50th anniversary in 2009. By 1978, planners added a social club competition to Celebration, and the book notes: “Within a short period of time, Celebration developed into one of the most prominent events on the calendar by involving large numbers of students and drawing hundreds of guest to campus.”

While the traditional Celebration is coming to an end, Hargrave says she is envisioning creating a new production with a new name and an emphasis on reaching out to the community for people to be involved in skits, singing, a dance team and hosting.

“We want to create a show where anyone on or off campus can showcase their talents,” Hargrave said. “Celebration may be over, but the heart of Celebration is not. We want to come back bigger and better than before.”