By Dale Goodwin
SPOKANE, Wash. – One of the world’s most recognizable companies, one of the 1960s most renowned folk groups and one of the largest Gonzaga celebrations ever, made Fall Family Weekend/Zagapalooza a resounding success by all indicators.
Nearly 2,000 alumni and more than 3,500 family members of Gonzaga students converged on campus Oct. 19-21 to celebrate everything good about Gonzaga. And it won’t be the last celebration this 125th anniversary year. National Gonzaga Day promises to be a nationwide Gonzaga party, at 30 sites, on Jan. 24. View www.gonzaga/edu/ngd in December for more details about the big event.
Meantime, Nike brought two Gonzaga alums and two associates to tell about its transformation over the past 40 years to become and remain the top athletic shoe and apparel manufacturer in the world. Alumni Greg Bui (’88) and Nelson Naekel (’99) were joined by GU parent Mac Macdevitt and the company’s ninth employee Nelson Farris, who drew comparisons to the similar cultures at Nike and Gonzaga and how both entities must be doing something right to last 40 and 125 years, respectively.
Chad Mitchell and Mike Kobluk, a pair of Gonzagans who over the years teamed with Mike Pugh, Joe Frazier and later a young man named John Denver to create one of the ‘60s most prolific folk groups, the Chad Mitchell Trio, shared stories and clips of their performances on such shows as the Ed Sullivan Show, the Dinah Shore Show and Hootenanny.
In addition, nearly two dozen faculty presented both informative and entertaining lectures for parents and alumni.
The Saturday alumni picnic on the Quad served up 650 sausages and burgers, and 550 cupcakes. People began lining up at 7 a.m. for Kraziness in the Kennel and a first look at the new men’s basketball team. Gonzaga’s new Grotto was dedicated. About 2,500 parents and family members shared conversation at the Autumn Gala. And Zagapalooza parties, beginning with the Convention Center extravaganza on Friday night attended by nearly 2,000 people, and culminating with individual class parties and a casino night, made for many smiles. Every class since 1953 was represented, and a few before that.
Alumnus Bret Nelson, the Las Vegas alumni chapter president, decided to help out in the hallway of the Zagapalooza kick-off event. He helped check people in, handed out programs and finally T-shirts. “I kept telling him to go have fun in the party but he was having a great time greeting alums and working with all of us,” said Teresa Hudak, assistant alumni director. “He got his degree online, so except for the people he has met at chapter events and the WCC, this was his first alumni event.”
“Our work here is crucial. We bring thousands of individuals together parents, family members and alumni to reflect on the relationships they have built because of GU and the important role that GU and these relationships have played in their lives,” said Acting Vice President for University Relations Joe Poss. “It is impossible to reflect on this past week and not say JOB WELL DONE and then some. Not only did we connect thousands of Zags, we did so in a truly engaging/fun fashion and wove in substance about our past and challenges that will shape our future.”
Thanks to McDonald’s for sponsoring Zagapalooza as well as Avista and Washington Trust Bank for their premier-level support of the anniversary celebration.