Dining Services transforms Hope Commons into Titanic

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Students amazed by splendor, authentic touches

KINGSTON, R.I. – February 14, 2013 – For a few hours recently it was April 15, 1912 in the University of Rhode Island’s Hope Commons dining center.

In fact it was A Night to Remember, as Dining Services transformed all of Hope Commons dining center into the RMS Titanic. Staff members dressed in costume and greeted students as they entered with, “Welcome aboard the Titanic.” Students were even invited to the event with a White Star Line Boarding Pass.

The menu was titanic too. It featured lobster, steamship round of beef, shrimp cocktail, salmon and a raw bar provided by a local vendor. A huge assortment of pastries, along with a 4-foot Titanic cake, made up the dessert menu.

The main lobby to Mainfare was decorated like the deck of the Titanic.

But that was only the beginning.

“We had a set of the bow of the ship so students could pose for a photo op like they were Leonardo DiCaprio in the ‘king of the world’ scene from the movie, complete with period costumes for students to wear,” said Dining Services Director Steve Mello. “We set up a bar downstairs in front of the Corner Store, where we served Razzbulls (Red Bull with raspberry flavoring) in plastic champagne flutes.”

“As the students climbed the lighted stairway, they were greeted with a scene of water and sky, deck chairs and lifeboats,” Mello said. “Dining Services staff served Razzbulls there as well.”

“We turned Rhody Market into the steerage where we had Irish music, root beer floats, and an artist who was doing portraits sitting on a Victorian couch. A student could request to wear a Heart of the Ocean Necklace, just like Kate Winslet did in the movie.”

Mello visited tables, asking students about Titanic trivia. Winners received necklaces, shirts, hats and books autographed by Oceanography Professor Bob Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic.

There was one spontaneous element to the event. “A student offered to sing the signature Celine Dion song, My Heart Will Go On. It was a show stopper.”

“I didn’t expect it to be so lavish,” said Danielle Sanda, a junior public relations major from Warwick. “When they have theme nights, they’re usually nice meals around the holidays. Most kids were wondering why they did something like this, but maybe it’s because they care so much. They showed the movie Titanic and a documentary. The quality of the food was spectacular.

“Mainfare was decorated with chandeliers, ice sculptures and pictures of the cast of the movie Titanic,” Sanda said.

Freshman Brandon Maxwell said, “It was a cool change of pace. It was packed all night.”

“I felt like we were on the actual Titanic,” said Megan Donnelly, a junior kinesiology student from Warwick.

“It was nicely decorated and the food was great,” said Carrina Chin, a junior kinesiology student from Warwick. “I loved that the staff wore costumes. It was a really nice touch.”

“I thought that the decorations were really good and it was a cool atmosphere,” said Emily Degerstrom, a sophomore textiles, fashion merchandising and design student from Shrewsbury, Mass.

Mello said there were lots of extra touches to make the night fun and educational.

“We even had a captain’s table that was reserved for our student employees of the month,” Mello said. “While we had a lot of fun, it was also a way to convey knowledge of the tragedy. We gave out a $50 prize to the student dressed in the best Victorian garb. We gave out wrapped Lifesaver mints, and we had a violinist playing to replicate what happened when the ship went down.”