FORT SMITH — The newly resurrected western Arkansas chapter of the Arkansas Alumni Association hosted a sendoff party for university-bound students Thursday night, though most of the evening was enjoyed by candlelight because the power was out.
About 70 people, including incoming freshmen and their parents, braved rain and strong winds to get to the corporate headquarters for Hanna Oil & Gas, where the party was held. The area downtown was without electricity for nearly two hours. It came back on when Hanna CEO and UA alum Bill Hanna stepped to a podium to welcome the next class of Razorbacks.
The evening was filled with lots of elbow-rubbing between the area graduates and UA alums, who were only recently reunited themselves with the re-formation of the western Arkansas chapter a year ago. The younger ones took home about 50 door prizes, including a Kindle Fire won by Alex Barthol.
This was the second year for the student sendoff, said
Cheslea Harper, communications chairman for the chapter. Despite “hellacious” storms, this year’s attendance was more than double last year’s, she said.
Until June of 2011, western Arkansas had been without an Arkansas alumni chapter for 22 years, since before the new generation was born. Emily Nelson, a Van Buren grad who will major in biology at the UA this fall, received a scholarship from the group this year.
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