Millikin's 85th annual Cookie Party gives students a boost before finals
As the fall semester winds down and students at Millikin University gear up for winter break, the campus community took part in the festivities of Millikin's annual Cookie Party – a welcoming event that celebrates the holiday season and helps students take a break from the stresses of final exams.
A long-standing tradition at Millikin University, the 85th annual Cookie Party was held on Dec. 5 in the Bob and Debi Johnston Banquet Room on the 3rd floor of the University Commons. The party featured the baking talents of many in the University community, providing over 5,000 cookies for all to sample.
"The Cookie Party is the essence of what Millikin University is," said Caitlyn Garrity, a senior theatre design and production major from Decatur, Ill. "Millikin is the kind of school that has faculty who will bake tens of thousands of cookies just so the students have a great day right before finals."
The Cookie Party has grown to become such a popular event on campus that the line to enter the banquet room was all the way back down the stairs to the lower floors of the University Commons.
Millikin President Dr. Patrick E. White greeted students with handshakes and a "Merry Christmas." Millikin staff members and volunteers kept busy throughout the event by refilling cookies trays outside the banquet room.
In an interview with the Herald & Review, student Genesis Brito, a senior theatre and Spanish education double major from Kenosha, Wis., said, "This is literally the height of Millikin's traditions. Everyone looks forward to it. It's at such an important part of the semester, when a lot of people are really down and are really stressed out, and this is our one chance to take a break and enjoy something and just be happy for a little while."
On Dec. 13, 1934, the first Cookie Party, formerly known as the Christmas Tea, was held in the browsing room of Gorin Library. The event was hosted by the Millikin Dames, an organization for women on Millikin's staff and wives of faculty members and trustees.
The Christmas Tea, an annual holiday event in honor of Millikin students, was held in the Gorin Library until 1960. In 1960, the location of the tea was moved to the University Center and in 1964 the Christmas Tea was renamed the Cookie Party. The Cookie Party was then held in the Richards Treat University Center since its opening until it was moved to the University Commons.
Millikin first-year student Carly Clo noted, "It's such a small school and that makes it a really good community. We're able to have these events and really enjoy it. I don't think you'd get the same sense of community and fun at just any school, especially a big school."
Student musicians have long provided the musical entertainment for the Cookie Parties, and this year's event was no different as great holiday music was provided by ensembles from Millikin's School of Music in the 3rd floor lobby of the University Commons.
With support throughout the campus community, and a goal of 500 dozen cookies, there were enough cookies left over from the event that Millikin was able to provide cookie boxes to night shift staff members in public safety, facilities and dining. Millikin staff members from the Office of Student Development also donated cookie boxes to the Good Samaritan Inn, a faith-based, social cause organization that helps improve the lives of those in need in the greater Decatur area.