Between the hours of six and seven on the night of November 30th, Toccoa Falls students crowded into the Defoor Centre, eagerly awaiting the dining room doors to open so hungry stomachs could enjoy a much anticipated meal. Quickly preparing the dining room before seven, the Defoor Centre staff weaved in and out of students who spent the hour taking pictures, laughing about the photography on the wall featuring a two-headed elephant, and quietly (and loudly) celebrated every time Georgia scored in the SEC Championship game.
When asked why SGA Executive Special Events Coordinator Casey Hurless chose the Defoor Centre for this year’s Christmas banquet, she said, “I spent many hours on Google trying I find a place within our budget and one that would be able to hold 265 people. The website had great pictures of the venue and I really liked the layout of the place. My committee and I visited once we got back to school and they really liked the place so I knew I made the right choice in picking the Defoor Centre.”
Hoping to avoid traffic from the SEC Championship, students arrived at the banquet hall as early as five in the evening. However, they were not with nothing to do. The walls were covered with photography and paintings and the Special Events committee had set up a photo booth with silly wigs, mustaches, and other accessories. And the venue had seating areas for conversation. So, they were close to having nothing to do. However, in the next room, students could find a café with a small coffee bar.
When the doors opened, the well dressed student body rushed to find their tables with salads already awaiting them. The centerpieces, made by Hurless’ Special Events Committee consisted of candles and clear and blue-painted glass bottles of various sizes. This room, like the others in the Defoor Centre had its walls lined with paintings and photographs. Attendees looking for a good laugh and conversation could find Mad Lib-like games of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” on their tables.
The stage at the front of the dining room featured live musical performances. Nicholas Greenfield and Jaclyn Oliveras sang duet Christmas songs like as “Baby it’s Cold Outside.” Later in the evening, Ashley Graves and Josh Spangler joined them to do a rendition of The Civil Wars’ “Poison & Wine.” The duet swapped out periodically with Seth Kennedy and Josh Spangler who performed on their respective instruments, electric guitar and drum kit, instrumental versions of songs such as “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and “Silent Night.” Both sets of live performers did a great job of making each song their own.
The food was certainly worth the wait. After finishing their bread and salads, attendees stood in line for their entrées which consisted of grilled chicken and mushrooms, and seasoned potatoes and asparagus on the side. Students whose stomachs were so used to cafeteria food found themselves satisfied by the moist chicken and fresh vegetables.
Periodically throughout the night, Allysa Gailer took the stage to choose from a bowl of raffle tickets straight out of the Reaping in The Hunger Games the winners of, not a one way trip to a battle for their lives, but a cornucopia of various door prizes. (Yes, pun absolutely intended.) The raffle was much like a white elephant gift exchange in that winners would choose a gift from the table to unwrap having no clue what it is. Some gifts were less expensive things such as stuffed bears, pictures of wolves similar to those you’d find on a ’90s child’s tucked in t-shirt, and plates. Other gifts were worth much more such as gift cards, an iPod Touch, and a Kindle Fire. There was also a toaster. The most coveted prize of the night, the iPad Mini that was found in a card instead of a box, went to Lydia Knight.
“The best thing about planning was seeing it all come together,” Hurless said. “My committee and I have been planning things here and there but we weren’t able to see the final product until we were at the venue and everything was set up.”Hurless said she had been planning the event even before the Fall semester began. She’d like to thank her committee for the hours they put into the event, those who helped out during the event, and especially those who stayed after the banquet to help clean everything up. “I couldn’t have done it without your help!”
When all was said and done and after everyone had enjoyed their dessert of cake, pie, and/or cookies, students parted ways to find more shenanigans to get themselves into. Some went bowling, others went ice skating, and others just chilled somewhere and watched a movie. But everyone left the Defoor Centre that night with satisfied stomachs, the Christmas spirit in their hearts, and visions of __________ (plural noun) dancing in their heads.