10 Aspects That Made Our 50th Anniversary Gala Unique

by Linnie S. Carter, Ph.D., APR
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
Harrisburg, PA

HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The year-long celebration was truly collaborative and included all of our stakeholders, including students, employees, alumni, board members, donors and the media.

Like most anniversary celebrations, we held memorable events and raised money in support of scholarships. However, the three events that created the most memories were a bike ride by HACC’s incomparable president, a golf tournament and a gala. All three of these events garnered a significant amount of attention and media coverage and raised a lot of money. In fact, combined, these events raised more than a half-million dollars.

I have attended many special events in my career, so I did not expect the gala to be a goose-bumps event. Boy, was I wrong …

There were 10 aspects that made the gala so unique and special:

1. It was planned by a collegewide committee of employees and volunteers.
2. The event attracted 24 sponsors.
3. Some sponsors purchased tables for students to attend the event.
4. The table centerpieces were created by the HACC horticulture program.
5. The dessert was made by HACC culinary arts students.
6. The guest speakers were two HACC alumni – a member of the first class 50 years ago who was eventually elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature and a nursing student who went on to graduate from the Yale University School of Medicine to become an anesthesiologist.
7. The dance floor was packed with sponsors, donors, board members and students. Music is truly a universal bond that we share.
8. We had a photo booth. Who would have thought the ability to put on a costume and take pictures with the ones you love would bring out the “kid” in so many people?
9. We had a symbolic red carpet that we used to take pictures of our guests. The number of people who took advantage of it rivaled those of televised national award shows.
10. The event raised more than $100,000.

Our goals with the gala were to celebrate the rich history and blindingly bright future of the college, thank our supporters and party like it was 1999. We did that and more!

Are you celebrating an anniversary? Are you planning special events? If so, what unique concepts can you share with us?

Linnie S. Carter, Ph.D., APR, is the vice president of college advancement at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, and the executive director of the HACC Foundation. 

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