Legends of the fall

Matthew Defour

Willardites brag their annual bash is renowned not only on campus but also nationwide. Many boast that a Playboy article listed the event among the top 10 college parties.

Actually Playboy has never heard of the party. A representative said the college party article, which ran in 1987, doesn’t mention NU.

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, which Frances Willard led from 1879 until 1898, also is oblivious to the party’s prestige. Some Willard residents said that in the 1980s, noise from the raucous party reached the WCTU headquarters. But WCTU librarian and archivist Virginia Beatty said she hasn’t heard a peep.

“It doesn’t seem to be one of the more solidly based stories,” Beatty said. The headquarters is located at 1730 Chicago Ave., more than four blocks away from Willard.

Originally the party was a mock tribute and birthday party for Willard, a leader in the fight to banish alcohol from the United States. Complete with hall decorations, ironic kegs of beer and a huge birthday cake at midnight, the Willard party remains a campus fixture.

History Prof. Carl Petry has been a faculty associate at Willard for more than 25 years and said the party’s spirit remains even though the emphasis on alcohol has diminished.

“Spoofing is a good occasion to have a party,” Petry said. “It celebrates a sense of creativity and community in the house.”

The legends don’t have to be true to attract students to the party, said Ian Przybylinski, a Weinberg junior and former Willard president.

“One legend that is still popular: a nude slip-and-slide down the hallway,” he said.