By Joel Sams
Senior News Writer
“The Zoo,” one of the halls in Johnson, celebrated more than 40 years as a hall during last weekend’s homecoming events.
Scheduled events for the Zoo reunion, or “ReZoonion,” as 2005 alumnus Joshua Moon called it, included a meet-and-greet on the Zoo for alumni and current residents, a Zoo brunch in the cafeteria, a Zoo-hosted tailgate party on the intramural fields and Sunday worship led by Zoo alumni.
Moon said that he came back “for the camaraderie. Most halls have it, but the Zoo has a really good history.”
He also said that the camaraderie grows out of long-standing traditions. One example is the traditional initiation new Zoo members experience when they first move to the hall. Moon declined to describe what the initiation involved.
“We wouldn’t want to spoil it for new members,” he said. “We’re a tight-knit family, and you’re going to get the same answer from everyone.”
Another Zoo tradition was revisited during homecoming weekend—the Zoo tailgate party.
Joshua Moon and Dave Bush, who graduated in 2004 and organized the reunion, teamed up to grill hotdogs and hamburgers for students and alumni.
Bush said that the Zoo tailgate party began to be a tradition when he was a student.
“It was the first thing we did when people moved in,” he said. “We would go to Nicholasville, drive through the Wendy’s and sit in the parking lot and tailgate for our Zoo event. Maybe not super wild, but zany—who tailgates at Wendy’s? We did that at the very start of the fall term and the very start of the spring term.”
Tradition is what has helped Zoo keep its identity as a hall, Bush said. Like Joshua Moon, he turned to the subject of a “light initiation of all the new guys,” but declined to give details.
“We do some traditions, just to bring guys in at the beginning of the year so they get to be part of Zoo in general, and that’s all I’m going to say,” he said, laughing. “They’re all above board. They wouldn’t make the Herald Leader—they’re all good traditions that shouldn’t be spoiled for new guys coming on.”
Though the Zoo reunion was open to current residents as well as alumni, junior Kyle Thiele, who lives on the Zoo, said that only a few students participated in the events.
“Matt Winters was in charge of it, so, due to certain circumstances, we didn’t hear about it,” Thiele said. “I saw a couple guys on the hall, but that’s about as far as the event went.”
Tyler Garden, a junior, participated in the Zoo-led worship service on Sunday. Though he didn’t participate in any of the other Zoo reunion events, Garden agreed that a unique camaraderie exists on the Zoo.
“I think Zoo does a really good job of building hall unity that extends beyond when you graduate,” he said. “If you meet somebody who’s been on the Zoo, then there’s kind of a bond that you have there because we’re one of the oldest halls. We can actually meet our friends’ parents who were on the Zoo, so that’s pretty cool.”
While attendance at the Zoo reunion events was low, David Bush said he received about 20 emails from Zoo alumni who wanted to attend but were unable due to scheduling conflicts.
Bush shared stories from Zoo alumni across the country who still keep in touch with Asbury friends and want to stay informed of future events.
“This guy in Wisconsin emails me and says, ‘I can’t make it, but I meet with another Asbury alum by phone every Wednesday, and we pray together,’” Bush said. “Right now they’re praying for two different Asbury missionaries. And then I got an email from a guy who graduated 16 years ago and still has his Zoo t-shirt and wants to be included on stuff.”
Bush grinned as he quoted the Bible verse chosen for this year’s Zoo reunion: “Our verse that we use for Zoo reunion is from Acts,” he said. “It says, ‘These men have caused trouble all over the world, and have now come here.’”