|Whether it’s the food or the company that provides the draw, one thing is certain—the
annual Alumni Weekend Clambake is a crowd pleaser that many folks return to year after year.
“It’s the first event of the weekend that gets people together, and that’s
what it’s all about, making contacts with those you knew and didn’t know,” Chris
Winner ’79 said at this year’s bash, where the software development vice president
from Castaic, Calif., clustered with classmates to begin 25th-year reunion festivities. Sidekick
Edward Traub ’79, a marketing executive from Potomac, Md., unabashedly confessed to filling
his plate three or four times with mounds of steamed clams, steamed shrimp, fresh corn on the
cob and other delights.
True, people come to see their friends, admitted Keith Martin, director
of dining services. “But
the food is the icing on the cake.”
And what an icing. About 425 alums each year run through
3,500 littleneck clams alone. And let’s not forget the broiled portobello mushrooms and
peppers with cherry tomato relish and those hunky desserts.
Executive Chef Jack O’Donnell
is the guy behind the recipes, which include what Martin calls “a crab bisque to die
for. It’s crab and heavy cream. How can it get much
“Yes, it is full-bodied,” said O’Donnell. Like all the soups
served on campus the bisque is made from scratch. But it’s only prepared for the Clambake.
to rainy weather the event was held this year in the dining hall, which didn’t have
the usual ambiance of tent-side dining on Morgan Field. But to Kevin Hess ’69, the setting
was no impediment.
“The event is wonderful for its informality—good food and drink
and no expectation beyond having a good time. It works, even inside the dining hall,” Hess,
a Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas judge, said as he made the rounds at his 35th-year
Cindy Murphy ’76, also of Carlisle, has been a perennial attendee since the late
1980s. Murphy, exhibits manager for the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages,
said, “Of all the alumni events we always make sure we go to the Clambake. When it’s
outside it’s a really relaxing evening. I liked it when they used to have a jazz band.
People would stay and socialize and listen to music.”
While Murphy goes for the chance
to see friends of her era this one time each year, her husband, Dave Zug, a psychologist at
the Dauphin County Prison, goes for the food—in particular
the steamed clams and charcoaled beef flank steak au jus—and the open bar, she said.
Daughter Gretchen, 5, also looks forward to the event. “She especially loves the music;
she’s dancing all night long.”
If you ask William Boucher ’79’s opinion,
though, the clams are not the icing on his cake.
“They are wee clams,” the CPA from
Browns-ville, Pa., pointed out. “So it’s
not about the Clambake. You could serve hotdogs. It’s really about the people not the