Every semester, the Department of Campus Activities coordinates with the rest of Western Carolina University’s administrative team to put on the Week of Welcome, a weeklong celebration of the cultural opportunities that Western Carolina has to offer. This year’s Week of Welcome had everything from magic acts to the eclipse viewing party to the chance to dunk a parking officer. The festivities culminated on Friday, Aug. 25 with musical performances by The Ready Set and Throwback Time Machine.
The Ready Set is an Indiana-based electropop act consisting of Lead Vocalist Jason Witzigreuter and a rotating group of backup musicians. Best known for his platinum ranked song “Love Like Woe,” The Ready Set has created three studio albums with a fourth on the way and has toured with such famous acts as Fallout Boy and We The Kings. Hundreds of Western Carolina students assembled in the courtyard for a four-hour jam session that could be heard all around campus.
Witzigreuter’s performance was a big hit with the crowd, who enjoyed some of his latest songs like “Antifreeze” and “We’re Not All Right,” which have just been made available for download.
“I really enjoyed the concert,” said Natalie Olinger, a freshman at Western Carolina attending her first concert on campus. “This choice of music is really meaningful to a lot of people.”
“He’s a great performer. My favorite song was ‘Love Like Woe,’” said sophomore Prince Jackson. “They should put on more shows like this, but next time they should put me up on stage.”
The concert went until 10 p.m., when students were treated to a dance party hosted by Throwback Time Machine, a DJ business specializing in older music. Boasting everything from ‘60s party anthems to ‘80s power ballads to students’ favorite hits from the last decade, Throwback Time Machine is all about audience participation. Some students were even invited up on stage with the DJ to press the big red button, which determined the machine’s next stop in the timeline.
For students who hadn’t had their fill of The Ready Set, Witzigreuter held a photo session by the clock tower where any interested fans could meet him. The lines were huge, but he took a picture with every single one of them.
“They were a great audience,” Witzigreuter said on his experience at Western Carolina. “This is a beautiful area with a lot of great people. It’s definitely one of the most fun shows we’ve done.”
According to Stephanie Sue Rowell, the associate director of Campus Programs, putting on the Week of Welcome includes efforts from groups all around campus. Last Minute Productions brought in Hypnotist Eric Mina for a Saturday night show, and the Arts and Cultural Events Committee was responsible for organizing a demonstration by the Cherokee Warriors; however, most of the events were selected by the Department of Campus Activities, who set up the concert, dance party, Valley Ballyhoo, outdoor showing of “Baywatch” and more.
These events are chosen when the department gets feedback from students on previous events and searches for similar acts within the budget.
The Week of Welcome is always a big deal at Western Carolina, but Rowell feels that this year’s festivities were particularly successful.
“I think it was a very successful year comparatively,” Rowell said. “Valley Ballyhoo had an estimated 3,000 people; we had 450 people at the hypnotist, over 250 people at the “Baywatch” movie, 300 people at the magician and about 700 at the WoW Concert. Many of these numbers match or exceed prior years.”
The Week of Welcome is also used to kick off the spring semester and promote self-improvement in the new year. “Resolution Week” features a similar series of activities to its fall counterpart with a particular focus on helping students get back into the swing of school life after their winter break, and Rowell is already confident about the lineup. The week will feature a performance by a Hip Hop violinist on Thursday, Jan. 18, as well as another concert similar to The Ready Set’s on Friday, Jan. 19 or Saturday, Jan. 20.
The Week of Welcome requires plenty of effort from everyone involved, so event coordinators take all the help they can get. Any students who would like to help choose, book, promote or otherwise aid the event schedule are encouraged to contact the appropriate department for more information.
“Students can get involved through any of the departments coordinating events for Week of Welcome.” Rowell said. “They can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can direct them to the appropriate department if they are unsure of where to go.”
For more information on the Week of Welcome and other Western Carolina events, visit the Department of Campus Activities at the A.K. Hinds University Center, go online to www.wcu.edu/experience/connect-and-join/campus-activities/ or call at 828-227-7206.