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The Practical Magic Behind Dancer Mail

As dancers received their final Dancer Mail deliveries just a little while ago, each dancer walked up to a specific table based on their dancer number and found a blue bag on the table filled with the remainder of the dancer mail friends and family sent them for the weekend.

During THON weekend, the Dancer Relations committee has the process down to a science. The real work all happens a few weeks before THON starts, when anyone can mail in Dancer Mail or drop it off in the HUB.

How does THON organize Dancer Mail so it goes off without a hitch each year? We got down to the nitty gritty with Mail Call Captains David Bailey and Cara Perrotti to tell you all about Dancer Mail.

Seventy-six people — two captains and 74 committee members — work to organize Dancer Mail in the weeks leading up to THON. After all, they have to sort more than 25,000 letters and 4,000 packages. Using this number average dancer receives about 35 letters.

“No dancer gets more than 10 packages,” Perrotti said. “We just implemented the rule this year because the packages can get really overwhelming.” Letters remain unlimited.

It may seem like a smooth transition when dancers begin to open their letters, but it takes more than nine hours just to move the mail from the third floor of the HUB to a Penske truck to be transported to the Bryce Jordan Center. Committee members form a sort of assembly line from the third floor to Sbarro to hand the mail off.

When the bags reach the trucks, they’re organized by dancer number in groups of 60 numbers, which are assigned six different color codes. OPP ensures the mail makes it safely to the BJC. Inside the BJC, the Mail Call Committees use these color codes to organize the bags in the South Annex until the two Mail Call hours — one for packages and one for letters.

Besides the swift organization of Mail Call, the committees also make sure every dancer receives at least one letter and one package. Alumni Associations from around the country donate packages, and many dancers also receive letters from school children around Pennsylvania and across the country from classes taught by Penn State alumni.

“The Technology Committee actually created a log website to help us keep track of packages,” Bailey said. “That’s new this year, also.”

While Mail Call can be a stressful time for Bailey and Perrotti, they agree it’s a fun job. Dancer Mail truly helps dancers make it through the weekend, as you can see through these emotional photos.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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