An incessant clacking and chattering descended upon the SAC auditorium on Thursday night. A spectator clutching a red and white Stony Brook hand clapper occupied each of the 245 seats in the auditorium.
With each wave of the hand, the clappers sounded out their applause and appreciation for the performers. If the clappers were any indication of the approval rating, then every one of the performers would be crowned homecoming king and queen, – including the charismatic host who doubles as the director of facilities operations by day, Howard Gunston.
It was the Stony Brook Homecoming King and Queen Creative Explosion, a night of revelry and pageantry for the five princes and five princesses who are vying for the crown. Or perhaps, as might be the case, attempting to add yet another title to the their resumes.
Each candidate has a short biography that reads like a student activities brochure. We had the Undergraduate Student Government president, Anna Lubitz, gracing the same stage as the marching band’s drum major, Karthik Rao. The women’s track and field captain, Laquashia Hall, running alongside a volunteer ambulance driver, Gurjit Saini.
When it came time to see the candidates perform, the chattering and applause reached their crescendo. It soon became apparent that the candidates had each brought their the own support network, including the Residence Hall Association for Esteban Pomboza and the basketball team for Dani Klupenger.
Full disclosure: I have very little homecoming experience to compare this year’s competition to. In fact I have none. It may come as a surprise that welcoming back alumni to their old school for a weekend of festivities, and then crowning two students the pseudo-monarchs for that weekend, is not a universal celebration. Especially not in my native New Zealand.
As far as I can surmise, this all-American homecoming pageant is a showcase of the talented candidates, or in the words of host Gunston, candidates who are “talented at being creative.” I would lean towards the latter for a few of the performances. Derek Cope’s “ninja soccer” skit incorporated an obvious fanatical love for the beautiful game with a daring rescue of Wolfie. Pure brilliance in the eyes of the entertainment-hungry crowd.
But the evening was not only a display of talents and creativity. It also included a beauty-pageant-style interview for each of the candidates. Beginning with the Aplastic Anemia fighting Cope, who optimistically claimed, “I love waking up every day thinking how can I make Stony Brook better.” The other candidates continued to answer the questions in much the same vein. It took a small jar of red-papered, creative questions to draw the life and individuality out of each candidate.
Nakiya Findley, a senior sociology major, answered the question “what would you take onto a deserted island?” with a giggle and “a cheeseburger, so it would be my last cheeseburger.” And of course her Wolfie doll, “to have a bit of Stony Brook.”
This Creative Explosion was only half-way along the road to becoming Stony Brook’s homecoming king and queen. Each candidate began their journey on Sept. 5 by filling out an application form just to become a finalist. And that was all before the competition became “red-hot” (excuse the school spirit).
The ten brave ones then beautified themselves for the homecoming kick-off carnival on Wednesday, Sept. 19 where they were officially released into the world. This was an opportunity for the candidates to campaign and show off their best side for students eager for some apples and a good time.
This brief encounter with the candidates was shortly followed up by the Creative Explosion and one of the first opportunities for students to vote. Though, students could also vote online, but the in-person votes were more heavily weighted. The process was a pseudo-democracy, for the judges hold 50 percent of the vote.
But that was not all these candidates had to go through, there was also the Seawolves Showcase on Friday, which the candidates had to attend and look pretty.
All leading up to Wolfstock 2012. The culmination of the week’s festivites and the moment of truth for five men and five women.
The candidates turned out in their finest gowns and tuxedos for the football game and the reading of the results. Between the band’s halftime performance and the beginning of the second half the winners were announced.
Karthik Rao’s comedic skit Creative Explosion performance detailing his transformation into a seawolf won him the most votes and title of Homecoming King. The honor of Homecoming Queen went to Dani Klupenger, whose personalized rendition of “Barbie Girl” kept the audience laughing at the Creative Explosion.