Celebrate Oregon

By UO student Lili Wagner

Just as the Seattle Ducks gathered for Celebrate Oregon, a celebration of all things Oregon (naturally), the UO men’s basketball team was running out of steam in the Elite Eight, 1,100 miles down the I-5 in Anaheim.

Hardly the ideal festive conditions in which to hold a chapter's first-ever signature event.

Grant Gurewitz, BS ’13, president of the Seattle Ducks, was worried spirits would be low at the event, but as guests arrived his concerns quickly dissipated. The event went off without a hitch.

“After the Elite Eight loss we were able to come together and find a reason to be proud of being a Duck in Seattle,” Gurewtiz says. “It was unique and unusual timing but it brought Ducks together in a beautiful venue for a great purpose, which was reaffirming for the community.

Held in downtown Seattle at NINETY, the hub of the Seattle Sounders, Celebrate Oregon was the inaugural edition of the chapter's signature event, aimed at bringing Ducks together to, well, celebrate Oregon while raising money for the chapter's scholarship fund.

“Our priority first and foremost with all of our events is community building," said Gurewitz. "I think that especially because we’re really located in enemy territory here in the Seattle area it’s really important for Ducks to see a strong community of green and yellow.”

Attendees enjoyed a taco bar and beverages provided by Oregon breweries and wineries, including Ninkasi and Willamette Valley Vineyards, as well as a silent auction and testimonies from past recipients of the chapter’s scholarships.

“Two past recipients of the Seattle chapter’s scholarship spoke, which was great to hear and really drove the silent auction,” Gurewitz said.

The event also featured special guest speaker Benjamin Saunders, a professor of renaissance poetics whose alter ego is the founder and director of the undergraduate minor in comics and cartoon studies.

“Ducks love to rally around athletics, but being able to keep programming diverse and showcase some of the great academic work going on at UO is important to us too," said Gurewitz. "Ben Saunders was able to speak about his program, but it was also very accessible and fun.”

This year, guests were successful in raising approximately $1,700 for Seattle-area students who are attending the UO, and the chapter looks eagerly to the future.

“We look forward to doing it bigger and better in the future,” Gurewitz says. “Our chapter has a lot of momentum right now.”

Out of bad—or at least a disappointing loss—came good for Ducks in the Seattle area: a chance to gather together, enjoy local food and beverages, hear about exciting programs at the University of Oregon, and support the next generation of Ducks.