Regimental Ball: New changes, old traditions

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At Norwich University, the annual Regimental Ball is about, “celebrating the seniors and their last year, and an event for the entire corps to come together,” said Melissa Rome, 22, a senior criminal justice major from Enfield, Conn.

The S5 section of the corps, which puts on the ball, is in charge of civil military affairs, ranging from intramural sports for the corps and civilians to rook cup events for freshmen recruits.

Over the years at Norwich, Regimental Ball has generally stayed the same, and that is OK with students. “I wouldn’t really change anything,” said John Johnston, 19, a sophomore mechanical engineer major from Fayetteville, N.C. “Regi ball was an enjoyable experience as it was this year and last year,” he said.

For anyone who has never attended the ball, there is a strong sense of patriotism because of the Prisoner Of War and Missing In Action table, as well as the large American flag hanging from a suspended track. There are plenty of Corps of Cadets and military class A uniforms as well as ball gowns and short gowns. There is ballroom dancing and contemporary dancing along with professional photos and a photo booth to capture the moment.

As far as planning Regimental Ball goes, Rome said it usually starts around the second week of classes. Since the ball was earlier this year, planning had to begin sooner, Rome said.

After planning begins, the ball has to be advertised to the student body. Advertising is done in different ways. “It’s advertised through formation, within posters and stuff. It’s well-known that you can buy your tickets (at the ball) or at the Wise Campus Center,” said Jake Alderman, 21, a senior English major from New London, Conn.

But Regimental Ball is so well-known, “Regi ball doesn’t really need to be advertised,” Johnston said, “everyone just seems to know when it’s coming and know(s) what it is.”

Rome said that the student activities board does, “online, my.norwich advertising (and) posters.” Invitations are also sent out to the VIPs but essentially people know by word of mouth, Rome said.

The ball is held in Plumley Armory. Outside groups come in and do balloons and decorations, but facilities operations sets up the tables and the bar, Rome said.

“The red carpet for the arc of swords is set up by a student and another student does the colors,” Rome said. Sodexo caters the event.

The ball has a long-established format that, notes a previous issue of “The Guidon,” “mirrors the first Regimental Ball held in 1960.”

“The first thing that happens is the receiving line,” Rome said, “which usually has the president, Colonel Holden, Dr. Vanecek, the Cadet Colonel and the (Regimental Command) Sergeant Major and the S1.”

Once the seniors go through the receiving line, they have their dinner and march down to Plumley Armory with the bagpipers, Rome said.

Once down in Plumley, the seniors go through the arc of swords by company.

Drill Company puts on the arc of swords, which normally consists of, “males (because) they don’t want to have females in a dress or get dressed up in blues,” said Giovanni Gutierrez, 20, a junior criminal justice major from Aurora, IL. “(It is) mostly trainees.”

After the seniors go through the arc of swords, “the national anthem (plays), and the rappelling for the POW/MIA table (happens),” Rome said. “Then after that, that’s when the ballroom dancing music plays.”

Along with these other events, drill company also puts on a performance to show what the Shock Platoon at Norwich does, Gutierrez said.

“(At) regi ball, the performance is usually performed by the seniors and this year somehow the seniors didn’t want to coordinate a routine,” Gutierrez said, “so the juniors had to step up.”

Although Regimental Ball has generally stayed the same, some students wouldn’t mind changes. “I would make ballroom dancing probably 15 minutes shorter,” said Alex Perryman, 20, a junior political science major from Orlando, Fla.

Depending on your class, the ball can be a different experience as well. “As a senior it was a lot different cause I was allowed to go to the bar (and) interact with some of the senior advisors here at Norwich,” Alderman said. Alderman said he would prefer the bar area to be closer to the dancing area and for the ball to be held in a bigger area such as Shapiro Field House.

So many people are aware of Regimental Ball, the turnout if fairly large. “For regimental ball it’s usually 800-1,000 people , this year we had 1,000, so it was on the upper end of that scale,” Rome said.

The ball is a major event on the Norwich campus and “generally it’s about 25 to 30 dollars (per ticket). Typically we do give a five dollar discount to the seniors however this year we’ve been kind of tight with money so we just said 25 dollars across the board,” Rome said.

But anyone can enjoy the traditions that are upheld because “anyone really can go to regi ball.” If you’re a cadet you buy a ticket and your date can be someone from campus or from out of town, Perryman said.

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