The making of the Meadow Brook Ball


Nowshin Chowdhury

Members of the Meadow Brook Ball committee decorated the mansion with oceanic themed items for “Under the Sea” ball.

Cinderella didn’t get to stay at the ball past midnight, but Oakland University students did. Dressed up in suits and ball gowns, 300 guests arrived at Meadow Brook Hall on Saturday, Jan. 28 and Saturday, Feb. 4.

The mansion was transformed with oceanic decorations for the 43rd annual Meadow Brook Ball, which was “Under the Sea”-themed this year.

The longtime tradition at the historic mansion was inspired by large-scale events hosted by Matilda Dodge Wilson, “particularly [for] graduating seniors,” said Jean Ann Miller, faculty adviser of the Meadow Brook Ball Committee.

Soon after last year’s ball, the committee started considering the theme, fundraising, decorations and entertainment for the two nights.

“It’s a yearlong commitment to make it happen,” Miller said.

First, there was a vote to select the executive board, and then the committee members voted on the theme. “Under the Sea” beat out “Ancient Greece,” “Galaxy” and “Fairy Tale.”

Secretary Joshika Chande, a second-year biology major, was nominated for her position after being part of the donations subcommittee for a year.

“I always thought that decorating was a lot of fun,” Chande said. “I guess when I first joined, I didn’t completely understand what goes into making the ball.”

The board is responsible for budget planning, bake sale fundraising, communicating with subcommittee heads and collaborating with the mansion and the adviser.

During the course of the fall semester, the members met every other Thursday to check in with their subcommittee heads and stay on track. One of the first meetings was a bonfire gathering, which gave everyone a chance to get to know each other instead of having a formal meeting.

“[The] bonfire was for not only eating awesome s’mores, but having fun with all of the [subcommittees] together,” said Zachary Sandoval, head of the public relations subcommittee and a second-year biology major. “[It was] also the night we voted for the color schemes and what activities we would have.”

Members were divided into three subcommittees: donations, decorations and public relations. The donations subcommittee was in charge of reaching out to sponsors to enhance the experience at the ball, while the decorations committee purchased items that incorporated the theme of the ball, and public relations spread the word about ticket sales.

Some of the other public relations jobs included making fliers, advertising on social media and designing the tickets and programs for the ball. All of the subcommittees came together to hold a can drive, raise money by filling up quarter tubes and collect items to fill two gift baskets per subcommittee.

Entertainment planned for the nights included dance lessons from the Ballroom Dance Club at OU, a live performance by a steel drum band, a DJ from WXOU, a mermaid impersonator, a photo booth, a scavenger hunt, a fishbowl decorating contest, caricature and tattoo artists, a tarot card reader, tours of the mansion and a variety of snacks.

“Ultimately, it’s nice to come to a resolution and see a whole year’s worth of work come to life,” Chande said.

Committee members were each entitled to one free ticket and one reserved ticket for their dates. After showing their dedication to the organization and completing all the required tasks, they received their tickets toward the end of fall semester.

On the days of the ball, everyone helped set up decorations in the morning and take them down afterward and dedicated an hour each night to work a coat check or front desk check-in shift.

“It should be one of those bucket-list activities, that if you go to OU, you should go to the Meadow Brook Ball at least once before you graduate,” Miller said.

The committee is now in the process of choosing its new executive board members and selecting the theme for next year’s ball.