Graduation Expectations, parties, etc.

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by fencersmother, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Got back from Parents Weekend and I was somewhat surprised at the number of people who asked me if I'd reserved a house (a house!), ball room, restaurants, etc. for the guys' May graduation. Are there any parents out there not renting a house? How many people from your respective families actually attend such an event? (We come up with a total of 4, plus 2 sponsor parents, plus cadets. No grandparents, aunts and uncles uninterested.)

    I have reserved a hotel room/suite for the few days we'll be in CO, but cannot imagine a house. I can even imagine a restaurant, but am having trouble with the whole ballroom scenario. And if everyone's having a party on Graduation Night, who's left to come to ours?

    As you can see, I've got concerns here. For you former cadets/mids, what arrangements did you and your parents make for the event/s? For parents, this is sounding like it resembles the cost of small wedding. How much are you willing to spend for this?
     
  2. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Don't worry about it. We Had a house for PPW and it was great for the parents, roommates from high school and siblings (10 total) who had a great time at PPW with a "celebrity" at the end of Plebe Summer in downtown.
    For Graduation we stayed in Baltimore for a lot less and easy access for graduation. Got a two bedroom suite in Baltimore for one third the price of a room at Annapolis at about 20 min away. Mid didn't want to stay with parents anyway and stayed at a roommate family rented house near Annapolis (we chipped in every day and brought over a lot of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner to feed the giant Company Maw which was probably close to the rental price). With two roommates and ten or fifteen company Mids flopping everywhere in the house during the week till "The Day" we only occasionally saw her until graduation. They all wanted to hit all the party's over the graduation period and didn't want to be anywhere near parents. I would only reserve a Ball Room if the squadron brought their own cots to sleep on. Of course they all can't walk downtown from USAFA.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011
  3. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    A lot of parents throw parties. However, in my day at least, these were often held at home after all returned from graduation.

    My parents took a block of rooms at a hotel. The last thing my mother wanted to do was be in the same house with everyone or cook for them!:smile:

    Believe it or not, it does make sense to plan ahead, at least for USNA. Annapolis is a small town. Yes, you can get stuff cheaper in B'more but consider whether you want to commute back & forth for the events. That's a personal decision -- a balance of cost and convenience.

    How many will attend really depends on your relatives and friends. We lived in reasonable driving distance from USNA so had about 25 people attend. They could drive up & back on the same day. Those who lived further away generally had fewer people come . . . but it really depended on the individual.
     
  4. NorthernCalMother

    NorthernCalMother Member

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    We're a small family, too (two older kids besides our USNA one, and a couple who are like family, but virtually no interested relatives) but we rented a 4 BR house a year before graduation, and were mighty glad we did.

    Right before Commissioning Week, Mid's two best h.s. friends announced they'd saved up for plane fare from California to attend, and other close family friends surprised us by coming (they stayed @ a hotel, but we were happy to have them for some meals). A few of the other kids' college friends who lived nearby made overnight appearances, as did Mid's girlfriend. We had one big dinner party for Mids' USNA friends and families, and really liked being able to invite people over as circumstances presented. The rental wasn't cheap, and we ordered food in several times so it wasn't a cooking ordeal, but when I think about the tuition we didn't spend for four years, we came away in good shape. More importantly, it might have been the most fun week our family ever had.

    As '85 says, everybody's different, but friends just might surprise you (as they did us). If I had it to do over again, I'd have rented a bigger house.
     
  5. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    We rented a house. It was just outside of the North Gate right across I-25 from USAFA. The convenience of being a 5 minute drive from the Academy was well worth it. We would have had to get 3 hotel rooms at $150-200/night each, so the $1500/week cost of renting the house was actually a much better deal that the hotel. We also had three other families who came (grandparents, uncles, and in-laws) who rented hotel rooms a little farther away, but used our rental house as a 'base of operations' close the the Academy. With the weather delays and cancellations is was so nice to be able to run back to the house in a short amount of time. Also, it was an incredible view of the Academy and the Thunderbird practices on Monday and Tuesday.

    I do not know of anyone who rented a ballroom.

    We ate two meals at restaurants. One Monday night at the Elephant Bar with everyone as kind of a graduation dinner. The other was Tuesday after the commissioning ceremony at Texas Roadhouse with just our immediate family and our son's "First Salute" who had flown in from Florida for the event. Everything else we cooked at the house.

    I really don't know of anyone who had a grad party after the actual graduation on Wednesday. We had a cookout at the rental house on Sunday before graduation and it was very well attended by our son's friends AND their families. Many of them were staying in hotels and welcomed the chance to come to the house and relax and socialize. We had people there from noon until midnight and it was really great to meet everyone. We also had other cadets and families stop in all week to visit. Other people had their grad parties on Monday night or Tuesday night after the commissioning ceremonies. Other families were staying in COS for a few days after graduation and had parties then.

    Another plus for the house was having the garage. Since the grads have to be out of the dorms within a few hours of the graduation, it was wonderful to have the garage to move all of his stuff into during the week before graduation. Then all he had to do was go and turn in his keys and check out.

    So, renting a house is not necessary, but we found it to be very convenient. I would say most people do stay in hotels for the week. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Stealth_81
     
  6. MIDNDAD

    MIDNDAD Member

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    First of all talk to your Mid/Cadet and find out what they want. How close, how far away from the Academy do they want to be.... Do they want to throw a party or do they just want private space and to spend time with family. Once you have agreement with your Mid/Cadet then everything else starts to fall into place.

    How many family and friends will potentally attend graduation? In our case the estimate was 25 and in our case we had several family members that wanted to come but could not afford 3-5 days of hotel expenses. We had the resources and made the choice to get a larger house with at least 4-5 bedrooms. That choice doubled our original budget for the house.

    Rental graduation homes in Annapolis can be found on-line and we started our hunting 18 months before graduation. We found the house we wanted and booked 1 year in adavance. Pricing for graduation homes varies widely depending on location and size of the home. Range is roughly $2k to 10K for the week depending on what your needs are.

    Since we were from California, we decided we wanted the house for an extra day to have some time together after graduation and get everything packed and cleaned. Also, your Mid/Cadet has to have their stuff either in storage or packed and ready to ship to a future location. That extra day really helped.

    Overall it's an amazing week and you cannot imagine how fast it flys by.
     
  7. NorthernCalMother

    NorthernCalMother Member

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    I second MIDNDAD's suggestion re: staying an extra day.

    We stayed two extra days, as son was in a wedding @ USNA, and it was great to be able to decompress, get his belongings sorted and shipped, etc.

    Also smart to ask your Mid what s/he wants. Ours wanted us to rent a little distance from the Academy due to traffic, and I'm glad we took his advice. He even had feelings about which neighborhood (kind of the edge of Eastport) would allow us to get on highways w/out too much delay.
     
  8. AFAMOM08

    AFAMOM08 Member

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    Fencersmom,
    I agree with checking with your cadets to see what they want. We were surprised at the interest that friends and family had in attending the festivities. My son loves to party so we planned accordingly. Our theory was that we didn't have to pay for his college and this event is truly a "Once in a lifetime" event. My son graduated in '08 so POTUS was the graduation speaker (I believe he will also be the speaker in 2012?) and perhaps that influenced the interest.

    We did not rent a house, we had a suite at the Embassy Suites and reserved rooms at Embassy Suites and Fairfield Inn on Academy Blvd near the south entrance. This worked out very well as we were able to host our out of town guests between events. I ended up scrambling at the end to find extra rooms because I had underestimated the number of potential guests. I would recommend that you reserve more rooms than you think you will need--you can always cancel them, but it is hard to find rooms at the last minute.

    I sent an e-mail to family and friends who I thought might be interested, outlining the events scheduled for graduation week in Jan prior to graduation and included the link to the Academy web site. I was surprised at the interest, we ended up with 14 out of town guests--a manageable group. We hosted a casual dinner on Monday prior to graduation and purchased tickets for the Graduation reception held the evening prior to graduation for our guests. We also had a BBQ at our son's sponsor's house after the graduation ceremony catered by Famous Dave's (Quite inexpensive--they provide everything you need) and invited our guests and any of our son's friends and his Sponsor brother cadets.

    Our guests were all very impressed with the events that were hosted by the Academy, as none of them had ever been there. I think that as parents we forgot how impressive the academy is when they put on a show and believe me, graduation week is quite a show!
     
  9. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Staying an extra day is a great idea. The extended family all went home and it was just my immediate family. It was a great time and some of the funnest days of Commissioning Week. My room mate also got married two days after graduation, so the day after graduation we had rehearsal and dinner and then the wedding. Commissioning Week followed by 4 weddings made for a crazy week. The night before graduation they made us sleep back in the hall, we were actually all relieved to, because we were so exhausted and it was nice just to have some down time. So much fun, but also totally exhausting. Just talk to your son/daughter and ask them what they want to do, what are the items they see as important events, what you see as important events to attend and go from there. It is their week, but for the most part people will have alot of family and friends spending big money to come, so they should also be accomodating to that fact.

    Yes, there are tons of graduation parties, some that are very high end. That wasn't my thing, so my sponsor family hosted my sponsor brother and I's families for a BBQ. Between the two us it was over 30 people. It was alot of fun and very easy going. If you get a hotel try to find a suite. Having the kitchen available and pull out couch were huge helps in keeping costs down and hosting folks as they came and went.
     
  10. Spanky58ggpt

    Spanky58ggpt Member

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    How many invites allowed?

    I read somewhere that graduation is not open to the public. I assume that means all in attendance have to have an invitation/ticket of some sort. Is there any limitation on the number of family and friends that a graduate may invite? I ask this in regards primarily for USNA and USAFA. DS is at USNA and one of his best friends is at USAFA (One year apart, thankfully). Might be helpful information if any could chime in regarding all of the academies if you have experienced any of the commisioning weeks. Thanks in advance.

    :thumb:
     
  11. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    My info may be a bit dated based on my own graduation but I attended a USNA graduation in 2010 and the policy/practice seemed to be pretty much the same.

    Graduation is not open to the public. Each mid is given a certain number of tix. In my day, it was 3 if the ceremony was held indoors due to inclement weather and 10 (or maybe 12) if it was outdoors in the stadium. In my day, it was open seating. In 2010, there were "priority" seats for parents -- or whomever you gave those tickets to -- in sections closer to the stage. However, there seemed to be more people than seats so those who didn't arrive early were relegated to the "regular" sections. Everyone else was first come/first served in the rest of the stadium. I believed one regiment was on the Blue side of the Stadium and the other on the Gold side.

    In my day, we only used half of the stadium so today there may be more outdoor tickets. The downside today is that everyone's view is at an angle and most people are further away from the stage -- bring your binoculars (seriously!). For those who have been to Navy/Marine Corps Stadium, the stage in 2010 was set up in front of the end zone where the brigade enters the stadium during march-ons.

    I believe that, if the ceremony is held indoors, relatives and friends w/o tix can watch the ceremony on TVs in various classrooms on the Yard.

    Many mids won't use their allotment of outdoor tix, so it's not hard to get extra tickets for an outdoor ceremony and I don't think anyone has to turn away friends or relatives from the outdoor ceremony for lack of tickets. Tougher for indoor as most mids have 3 people who want to come. The decision on indoor/outdoor is usually made the morning of graduation. They make EVERY effort to have it outside; however, sometimes there are some anxious moments in those morning hours.

    The best advice is to GET THERE EARLY. This is especially true if your speaker is the President or VP because security is tighter.
     
  12. NorthernCalMother

    NorthernCalMother Member

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    As usual, '85 is right about most everything USNA. One small distinction -- when our Mid graduated in '11, he could request as many tix as he wanted for Commissioning in the stadium (meaning, as long as weather allowed, which it did).

    He got a couple more than we needed, but it was no loss, since the stadium didn't completely fill for graduation. We had 6 tickets for "company seating" and Mid requested about 20 for "open seating." Mid's know how to handle all this. Trust them!

    But as '85 says, arrive early. In 2011, there were 27,000 spectators for the 1.000+ graduates. And when POTUS is there, you know even more will want to attend.
     

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