The THON line dance may be littered with today’s most well-known pop culture references, but for those in attendance like former THON dancer Gary Generose, a trip back to experience THON means it’s time to party like it’s 1995.
Generose, like most former Penn Staters, is always looking for reasons to make a visit to Happy Valley. A two-time Penn State graduate (B.S. Finance at University Park, Master’s in Leadership Development at the Great Valley commonwealth campus), Generose currently serves on the Penn State Great Valley campus Advisory Board, is actively involved as a graduate advisor with Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), and is a former Great Valley campus Alumni Society president.
So when Generose saw that he would be able to attend the Penn State-Minnesota men’s hockey game this Friday, he kept an eye on the chance to bring his family in to take a look in at THON 2017. Although they had planned to come into the Bryce Jordan Center to take part in the event on Saturday, they noticed that the line outside of the BJC when they left Pegula Ice Arena on Friday night was pretty short. They came inside just in time for Joe Jonas to surprise the crowd with a concert.
“That was pretty amazing when he came out,” said Generose. “We’ve been sitting here trying to guess the next celebrity they’ll bring out. I mean, at this point with Jonas and Kim Kardashian and so many celebrities tweeting about it we are waiting on Beyoncé to come out next,” Generose joked.
In 1995, Generose was able to participate as a dancer for FIJI back when THON was still in the White Building. “It was 1000 percent smaller, that’s for sure,” said Generose. “I think ’95 was one of the first years that they raised a million dollars (Editor’s note: 1992 was the first) and we were blown away, and now they are raising over $10 million annually. At that point, it was still mostly the Greeks. There wasn’t really a strong presence from all these different types of organizations like we see now. The leadership has done a great job to bring everyone in.”
For Generose, there was no other place on his mind when it was time for him to pick schools, and THON helped confirm his brightest expectations for what the college life would bring him. “I was a one school application-type of guy,” said Generose. “My sister came here, and I was a huge Penn State football fan. I came here and joined FIJI and had an amazing time dancing in THON. It was an amazing cause and a great way to get involved. That’s why you go to college, to join something way bigger than yourself. It’s everything to me, and I believe that this is one of those things that shows the essence of what this university is. It’s in the foundation of this place, and it’s great to see.”