Winnie-the-Pooh proclaimed the first day of autumn “A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves!” Blair’s Associate Dean of Students, Rod Gerdsen, could not agree more. As the guru who plans activities for the student body, Mr. Gerdsen looks forward to fall, when the air is crisp and golden and Blair students, just returned from summer break, are bounding with energy.
“The best activities are in October,” says Mr. Gerdsen, smiling before launching into a lineup of events sure to make any class long for the bell.
In addition to panels and performances, exhibitions and concerts, Blair strives to offer a variety of events throughout the year to keep students active, engaged and broadening their horizons. Mr. Gerdsen’s speciality is planning the fun. He kicked off October’s scheduled activities with a perennial favorite, the Food Truck Festival, during which students’ favorite food trucks roll onto campus, offering a tantalizing array of international cuisine. With the smell of Mediterranean gyros filling the air from the Rolling Pita, this year, Blair gourmands favored the Little Sicilian, which offered fried raviolis and handmade cannolis. While Bro-Ritos served up massive burritos, shrimp tacos and chicken quesadillas, DoMo, a steel drum performer from Brooklyn, New York, performed on stage. As students relaxed on Adirondack chairs and feasted, he even invited a few students onstage to try out the steel drum and make beautiful music.
A few days later on October 10, students got their superhero fix with a trip to the movies, and many plan to soak in the fall festival this coming weekend. On Saturday, October 16, the Bowl will be brimming with hay bales and mums, lined with pumpkins for painting and carving, and feature tables piled high with apples—just waiting to be dipped in warm caramel.
“That’s not going to be the highlight of the weekend, though,” predicts Mr. Gerdsen. “Have you seen the Meltdown?” A ride akin to those one might see on the TV show “Wipeout,” Meltdown is an inflatable arena that holds eight players at a time. Two swiveling arms spin as students dodge, duck, dip and dive to avoid being knocked off their pedestals.
The following weekend, Mr. Gerdsen has planned a football tailgate where Blair faculty grill their favorite dishes and gather with students for a celebration before the home game against rival Hill School.
As if that isn’t enough, Mr. Gerdsen intends to cap off Blair’s October fun with Nightmare on Park Street over the Halloween weekend. Last year, the immensely popular event featured a haunted walk through the Siegel Property. Looming with dark tree trunks and overhanging limbs, the wooded lot allowed just enough moonlight to provide the perfect setting for an event that left students howling with fright.
When asked if inclement weather could put a damper on his plans, Mr. Gerdsen's eyes begin to twinkle like the mad planner he is. “A rainy, foggy night for Nightmare on Park Street? Now, that would be perfect!” Thanks to Mr. Gerdsen, there is always something fun happening at Blair on weekends in the fall. And, while he has nothing against Winnie-the-Pooh, he firmly believes that piles of leaves and hot chocolate are only the beginning...