Walker Wonderland, a well-loved tradition at John Brown University, lasts only a few hours, but planning and preparing for the event starts months before.
“We started talking about Walker Wonderland beginning at staff training in August. Halls have been getting their ideas together for the past month or so,” Haley Maguire, Walker Hall assistant resident director, said. “It is important to have a theme before Thanksgiving so people can bring stuff back from home that they can use.”
Walker resident assistant, Neeya Toleman, said the most time-consuming part of the event is decorating the hall. She added that since the event takes place the week before finals, participating students have to carefully balance decorating with studying.
“It takes a lot of time and effort to put purpose in your decorating,” Toleman said, explaining that sometimes there are rooms or halls that are noticeably less attractive than the rest because students didn’t have time to work on them. “Time determines the quality.”
Despite the difficulties of planning the event, Walker resident director, Andrew Lehr, said that this activity promotes student bonding in each hall.
“The best part of the experience, from my perspective, is getting to see the students come together and create something amazing,” Lehr said. “It truly is incredible to see the transformation that each wing goes through as they create their themes. I love seeing students get involved and make new friendships through this experience.”
Participation in the event is optional. However, Residence Assistants highly encourage their halls to join in and be part of the community.
Resident assistant, Acadia Kimball, said that she asked the students in her hall what level of commitment they want to invest in the activities.
“There are girls that do not want to use their room or they do not want to spend too much time in it, but they really want to participate,” she said.
This year, Walker is not only planning to create a fun event but also to support the community. Maguire said that this year they will be collecting canned food items for the Manna Center, a nonprofit organization in Siloam Springs that helps people in need. Students who bring a canned food item will get into the fast line.
“Each year, Wonderland wastes a significant amount of trash, paper and more. So in an effort to give back, Walker Res Life has teamed up with the Manna Center to help transform what could be a wasteful event into a purposeful one,” Lehr said.
Even though the event will take place a week before finals, Walker Winter Wonderland promises students a moment to relax and enjoy the magic of this tradition. The event will be Monday, Dec. 7 at 9:30 p.m. The back entrance to Walker, nearest the health complex, will serve as the entrance of the event.