Tonight, after months of preparation, Penn State will dance.
The 41st Interfraterinity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon will kick off at the Bryce Jordan Center tonight at 6 p.m. — it’s an event that students, families and alumni have been waiting for since last year’s THON.
Though many things will remain consistent with last year, this year there are many differences occurring to make THON weekend better, THON Media Relations Captain Megan Renaut said.
For the Better
While THON’s main goal stays the same, there are many changes made each year to improve the THON experience.
“Every THON weekend is different,” said Communications Overall Chairwoman Jenna Adams. “There will be lots of great local bands, speakers and performances that will keep dancers and spectators pumped all weekend long.”
Among these will be changes to the PASS system, mail call, the RIDE and the global line dance called Dance With Us.
The PASS system will be completely new this year, Rules and Regulations Overall Chairman Mike Wellner (senior-supply chain management) said.
This system regulates how visitors and organization members are admitted onto the floor during THON weekend. The new PASS system, Wellner said, will include changes to the lines and pass holders. It will also not use electronic lines like last year, he said. Instead, THON officials have gone back to a physical line system.
Wellner said this system was tested during the Family Carnival, and he thought it was successful in limiting confusion.
In addition to the PASS system, dancer mail call will also see changes this year, as there will be two mail calls, said Melanie Sessa, morale overall chairwoman. With these mail calls, there will be one for packages and one for letters, she said.
“The dancers will be getting the letters second, when they need that inspirational boost,” Sessa (senior-marketing and public relations) said.
Another change will be made to what is formerly known as the WALK, Sessa said. This year, it will be replaced by the RIDE, which stands for Real Interactive Dancer Experience.
With this, there will be an area in the BJC where dancers can go to enjoy arts and crafts, games and stretching, as well as sign a banner that will be sent to the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
For Renaut, one of the major changes is the addition of the worldwide line dance called Dance With Us. The line dance will be 30 seconds long and will be about THON and the Four Diamonds Fund. Dance With Us encourages people from around the globe to dance along.
“Hopefully, we get a lot of participation in the line dance,” Renaut (sophomore-psychology) said.
For the Excitement
With the many activities THON weekend offers, it is hard to pinpoint just one that people are looking forward to. But there are a few in particular that the overalls said they are especially excited for.
Renaut said she is looking forward to the worldwide line dance, as well as just being in the BJC surrounded by THON’s atmosphere.
“There’s nothing like stepping into that atmosphere,” she said. “I’m excited for us to project THON energy to others.”
Sessa also said she is looking forward to the line dance because she thinks it will spread more awareness about THON, adding that she is excited for the RIDE.
But for Adams (senior-kinesiology), dancer mail, as well as seeing the weekend come together, is what she is most eager for.
“I am the most excited to see the hard work that THON chairs and organization members have been doing all year come to fruition THON weekend,” Adams said.
THON Overall Chairman Will Martin said he is enthusiastic about seeing the Penn State community come together. He said THON is the time where all the students involved come together on one weekend, as well as join the families who will be in attendance.
“THON is the one time Penn State students are doing things together,” Martin (senior-communication sciences and disorders) said.
For the Cure
After spending months fundraising, many people said they are anticipating the moment when the total is revealed.
“All of our organizations have stepped up their game this year and did a fantastic job with fundraising,” John Mazzochette, overall hospitality chairperson, said.
This year, there were only three canning weekends as opposed to the previous four weekends. Adams said she did not know how successful the canning weekends were financially this year.
Despite fewer weekends, Adams said the THON chairs, student organizations and independent dancer couples have worked “incredibly” hard all year.
“This weekend, all of the THON chairs will see their hard work reflected in the ‘thank yous’ they hear from our Four Diamonds Families,” Adams said.
For the Kids
Besides the changes in THON weekend and in fundraising, the most important part of THON stays the same in its message of “For the Kids.”
Martin said there are a record number of families attending THON this year, totaling more than 300.
And some, like Mazzochette (senior-civil engineering), are particularly excited to become acquainted with these families throughout the weekend and during Family Hour.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting them and thanking them for their support,” Mazzochette said. “The support is a two-way street. We support them and they support us.”
Wellner said he is excited to see the families and kids running around, and that THON weekend is an opportunity to become closer with the Four Diamonds Families.
Sessa also said the most important part is to be there for the families.
“We need to give the kids a fun weekend,” she said. “Even better than Christmas.”