“What do fish and Coke have in common? Bubbles.” A huge sign with these words greeted the crowd of Tech students and guests who filed into the Georgia Aquarium last Thursday for GT Night at the Aquarium.
Through collaboration from the Student Center Programs Council, RHA and SGA, GT Night at the Aquarium provided $7 tickets for the first 2,000 guests and $13 tickets for all others. More than 3,200 students attended the event, along with scores of faculty and family members.
“Initially, we were only expecting about 1,500 people, so we were really excited that so many students, faculty and guests wanted to come. The idea for this event had been in place since last year, so we simply had to put the gears in motion,” said Dhruti Patel, chair of the Student Center Arts Committee and the main organizer for the aquarium event.
In addition to the aquatic wildlife on exhibit, visitors also enjoyed performances by the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra (GTSO), which had set up in the aquarium’s main lobby. The orchestra played works by Felix Mendelssohn, Camille Saint-Saens and Richard Wagner, all of which carried water themes. “We appreciated the opportunity to play at the aquarium. It was a different venue from our traditional concerts and I think many people enjoyed the music,” said Ron Mendola, conductor of the GTSO.
Aside from some very long lines at the Student Center shuttle bus stop, the evening went very smoothly. With the help of volunteers from the Student Center Programs Council, RHA and SGA, the process of swiping in guests’ BuzzCards and passing out complimentary drinks went off without much trouble.
“It was extremely well planned, especially for a first-time event of such grand scale,” said Nick Wellkamp, undergraduate student body president. “There were no hitches at all.”
“The people from the Georgia Aquarium were very cooperative and we enjoyed working with them a lot to bring this great event to Tech students,” Patel said.
At the aquarium, some of the most popular exhibits were the beluga whale tank and the shark and manta ray pool.
“I thought this was a great way for Tech to introduce a local attraction, especially for students who are not originally from Atlanta or Georgia,” said Robin Osborne, a second-year CHEM major from Edinburgh, Scotland.
Some students, however, were put off by the timing of the event. Many expressed that they would have liked to go but had too much schoolwork to do or too many midterms to study for. However, event organizers defended the decision to hold the event on the second Thursday in February, saying that it was the best week and day they could choose.
“Although the timing did approach midterm season, we considered that there were no other big campus events coming up and that most people were still on campus on Thursdays,” Patel said.
After the success of this first GT Night at the Aquarium, the Student Center Programs Council is looking to make it an annual event for the spring. “I would like to see Georgia Tech do more large community events like the Aquarium and Six Flags. They are great ways to bring the student body together,” Wellkamp said.