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  • Seph Aherne

What It Takes to Festive an Extravaganza

Zoom quizzes, a concept that did not even exist a year ago, have become the 'dominant strain’ of social events in 2020/1. Super contagious, the symptoms are varied: sometimes with no prizes, often with boring locations, and almost always dull, we can only pray vaccines rid us of this ‘entertainment’.

In the meantime, however, Foodsoc decided to adopt a ‘Living with the Zoom Quizzes’ strategy, whereby we would put together the biggest, most exciting Zoom Quiz UCD has ever seen. With a grand prize of €800 of Domino’s, and a plethora of prizes from our generous partners at Pablo Picantes, Smokin Bones, Bombay Pantry, Mooju, Wowburger, Fakeaway, and Offbeat this mutant strain of Zoom Quiz spread like wildfire through the student community, with over 300 registering to participate! Another feature of the Food Soc Festive Extravaganza variant was that participants competed in teams of 4, with the chance to meet new people. This was a vital priority for us, as freshers, in particular, have been deprived of the chance to be social by distance. Our Tech Team, headed by the now famous ‘#FREEMATTHEW’, put together a convoluted way around Zoom’s 50-breakout room limit which involved HDMI splitters, 4 rooms of committee members working, 5 laptops, 2 accounts, and more spreadsheets than could possibly be counted.

They did this on top of the production set-up, which, with help from the Student Centre, comprised of 2 HD cameras simultaneously recording multiple sets, lapel mics, a switchboard, more laptops than Simon Harris could possibly tweet about, professional lighting, the most complicated TV remote and HDMI board ever concocted, all while masked up and 2 meters apart.

But all this image capturing equipment needed a good image to capture, which was duly provided by our amazing set design team who designed three (3!) christmas-themed sets from the bar to the main stage to the ‘Foodsoc Xmas Tree’. It was a FoodSoc wonderland from late November, and by shooting on the 11th of December symptoms shown by this team included Christmas cheer, rational hatred of garlands, lights, and any other decorations, and involuntary Domino’s box assembly. Under the tree we buried our GPAs.

Our sponsorship team continued to flex, despite the number of prizes already collected, they organised a raffle in aid of Jigsaw, a charity chosen for the relevance of youth mental health throughout the pandemic. The €50 KC Peaches Voucher, €75 One4All Voucher, and €100 PressUp Voucher were key incentives of reaching €1,185 in donations in just under 2 hours - and seeing Colm, Richie, Matthew (‘#PIEMATTHEW’), Robyn and Joseph pied live on the Zoom (Joseph’s pie being administered in 3 jabs [to the face]). Our donation link was kindly sponsored by Entspay, who ensured that every single cent donated, including anything marked as a transaction fee, went straight to the charity.

But how did people hear about it? From the sleek, vibrant, informative posters and poetically crafted captions, that’s how. Not to mention our Secretary Ellen’s emails, which were another key component of the tech plan that involved multiple links going to multiple groups of multiple types. She had to check those lists more than twice.

And so in order to festive an extravaganza, what you really need is a dedicated, talented, hardworking team motivated by the simple pleasure of bringing a bit of enjoyment to people’s lives. That’s not something you’re going to get in your stocking on Christmas morning, and we are all incredibly grateful to every single person who made this event possible. Alongside our committee, our partners and the Student Centre gave incredibly generously, sharing prizes, time, expertise, and patience with us every step of the way. The undisputed highlight was how readily and enthusiastically members engaged.

But if we ever hear the word breakout room again….

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