Over 50 alumni, faculty and staff joined President Lahey’s first virtual Holiday Happy Hour that took place December 15. Joining from as far afield as Reno, Chicago and Vancouver, as well as from right here in Halifax, the King’s Community embraced social connection despite being physically distanced.
President Lahey began the evening with a warm introduction from the President’s Lodge. Mark DeWolf, BSc(Hons)’94, then treated attendees to a festive cocktail demonstration. As Creative Director of Food & Drink at The Saltwire Network, Mark is passionate about sharing his knowledge of food and wine, enhancing the demonstration with a little bit of history on each drink. Demonstrating his festive twist on an Old Fashioned—a drink that dates to 1880—Mark added seasonal flavours with a simple syrup infused with cinnamon and cranberry. He followed with an adaptation of the French 75—the Pomegranate 75 and then prepared a ‘thyme-less’ mocktail, a refreshing combination of orange and cranberry juice topped with ginger ale and garnished with fresh thyme.
With the audience comfortably seated by their computers, cocktail in hand, Vice-President Peter O’Brien delivered a triad of seasonal poems. Beginning with Roman poet Horace, Peter followed this reading with The Skater by Charles G. D. Roberts, a Canadian poet who was a professor at King’s from 1885–1895. A poem by Zachariah Wells, BA(Hons)’99, Fields of Flows concluded the trio.
A spirit of friendly rivalry took hold as attendees were divided into teams for trivia. Working in groups separated from one another via Zoom ‘breakout rooms,’ each team had the opportunity to discuss the trivia questions and determine their answers before going head-to-head against one another. From a round of ‘King’s General Knowledge’ that jogged everyone’s memories of the campus in days of yore, to final round questions that required participants to recall details on Dante, De Beauvoir and Nietzsche, each team put their King’s credentials to the test. Ultimately Team 6, led by Dean of Students, Katie Merwin, emerged victorious with an impressive 13 out of a possible 20 points.
For the final portion of the evening, the audience turned its attention to President Lahey for his fireside remarks. Reflecting on the challenges 2020 has posed worldwide, President Lahey coupled these thoughts with a hopeful look toward 2021. His remarks centered around the theme of coming together, as a university that is defined by community, saying “This year, we showed not only that we are the strong community that we tell the world we are, but that we’ve become an even stronger community.”
While acknowledging the difficulties this year has posed—particularly for students—President Lahey pointed to the incredible resilience demonstrated by the King’s community, and the support its members have shown for one another. The president thanked faculty and staff for their work and encouragement, and for putting King’s students at the heart of all they do. President Lahey also commended King’s students for showing exemplary citizenship on campus, and within the Halifax community. He encouraged alumni to continue to promote King’s to prospective students and thanked the global alumni community who “rallied to the cause of the college” to assist in COVID-19 relief efforts earlier this year. The president ended his remarks with a message of hope, reminding the audience that while physically distanced, we can still meet together virtually and embrace community in spite of the pandemic. This message was met with many a smile across the faces of the audience, aided in no small part by a cameo appearance from Casey ‘the campus canine!’
In closing, President Lahey opened the floor for a Q&A which, in true King’s fashion, led to a warm discussion of campus traditions old and new, from chapel bell-ringing pranks on April Fool’s Day to the new Valentine’s Day tradition of affixing hearts to residence windows around the quad. President Lahey offered words of encouragement for all as he closed the event:
“There are better days ahead. Happy holidays, stay safe and stay well.”