Ball State focuses on the family

Family Weekend has become narrowed to a Saturday afternoon visit with parents and siblings, yet business owners are thankful for the revenue it generates.

Many of the hotels in Muncie were booked three months in advance of Family Weekend.

Alicia Gooden, a Ball State University student who works at Holiday Inn Express, said the hotel offered a Ball State rate for people who booked a room three months or more in advance.

"Parents started booking rooms since orientation, as soon as they found out the date," she said.

Tony Alexander, a manager of Texas Roadhouse in Muncie, said this year was the busiest Family Weekend they've had.

"I wish I could say why sales were up," he said. "I think people just wanted to stay out later. We were busy from 12 o'clock on. We're just grateful that everyone loves Texas Roadhouse."

Greek's Pizzeria in the Village was another hot spot. Owner Andrew Goth said even though they didn't use the outside patio, overall sales were about the same as last year.

"The crowd hit earlier," Goth said. "Since the game started at noon this year, people started coming around 2 or 3 for an early dinner."

Some hotels and restaurants didn't offer as many discounts because they knew parents would still be willing to do business.

Desi Wooten, a manager of Chili's in Muncie, said they didn't offer any promotions that were specific to Family Weekend.

"We had a wait from 1 o'clock to 10," she said. "But I think we accommodated people pretty well."

Instead of getting a hotel for the weekend, freshman Gabby Tabor's mother, brother and sister spent the night in her dorm room while her roommate was gone.

"It was nice to see them, but it was a little uncomfortable to have everybody in my room," she said.

Freshman Nick Graham hadn't seen his family since Labor Day. His family came Saturday night and he said they spent the evening helping him look for a house next semester and stocking up on food at Walmart.

"My dad flew in from Virginia and it was nice because I don't get to see him very much," he said.

On-campus events like Friday Night Filmworks and the Dean's Recognition Ceremonies generated a lot of participation.

University Program Board President Dillon Kimmel said, between the two showings, 720 people went to see "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

"We expected a few more, but I know the weather was cold and nasty," he said. "We had 60 or 70 families between the two showings."

He said family members seemed really happy when UPB told them they didn't have to pay if they were escorted by a student.

Sophomores Dennis Sullivan and Jaclyn Swhear were recognized at the Dean's Recognition Ceremony for the College of Sciences and Humanities, and then spent the afternoon with their parents.

"It's different seeing [my parents] in an environment I'm not used to seeing them in," Sullivan said.

On Saturday afternoon, he said his parents took him out to Applebee's and then bought his Halloween costume at Halloween USA.

Swhear said it had been a few weeks since she was home.

"It was nice they came up for me," she said. "I felt appreciated."

Some students weren't able to see their families, but they didn't seem to mind.

Sophomore Kristine Couch said her parents live six hours away, so they weren't able to make it.

"I just spent the weekend relaxing," she said. "I hung out with friends and went to Late Nite."

Bahar Annadurdiyeva, an international student, said she didn't even notice it was Family Weekend.

"I was too busy with school to notice," she said.

Senior Amy Cleeter didn't hang out with her parents on campus, because they came to watch her soccer game at Ohio University.

"They brought some of my stuff up, and I got to visit with them for about 20 minutes," she said. "They try to come to all the games they can."



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