2009 Veishea dates will change, with hopes of better weather

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University officials and student Veishea organizers have decided to change the date of next year's Veishea celebration.

Spirits were dampened last weekend when the annual spring celebration was met with snow, 30-degree temperatures and muddy conditions on campus following several days of rain. The parade and many of the festivities were still well attended, but other outdoor events that couldn't be moved suffered.

Veishea 2009 was originally scheduled for March 30 through April 5 -- the earliest dates in the event's history. The new Veishea dates are April 13-19, 2009.

Students, faculty and staff who serve on the Veishea Advisory Committee normally set the event dates years in advance. In selecting the dates, they work around the ISU academic calendar, Greek Week, the Drake Relays in Des Moines, and religious holidays including Easter and Passover. Since 1993, they also have attempted to schedule Veishea well before final exams.

April 13-19 had initially been avoided because the earlier part of the week coincides with Passover.

Seeing limited options other than that week, Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Hill consulted with numerous Jewish leaders on campus, including faculty, staff and members of the student organization ISU Hillel. Hill also spoke with a representative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines. He asked whether moving Veishea to April 13-19, 2009, would conflict with the Passover observance.

"All the people I spoke with supported our desire to move Veishea, and they assured me it would not be a problem for the Jewish community," Hill said. "I truly appreciated their guidance. That feedback has allowed us to move Veishea to dates that we hope will provide better weather. We are able to respond to the overall university community's needs, and at the same time show proper respect to a religious holiday that is observed by many members of our community."

Even Hill, who optimistically referred to last week's cold, dreary rain as "liquid sunshine" at Veishea opening ceremonies on April 11, has had enough of the inclement weather. But he's not making any guarantees for sunshine at Veishea 2009.

"This is April in Iowa. Some years we huddle under blankets at the Veishea parade; other years we've gotten sunburned. You can't outsmart Mother Nature, but we're sure going to give it a try," Hill said.

ISU News Service asked the university's meteorology faculty and State Climatologist Harry Hillaker of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship about the odds of snow in any given April in Ames.

"Snowfall in April is more the rule, rather than the exception," Hillaker wrote in an e-mail reply. "The odds of seeing snow on any single calendar date in April is rather small, but most Aprils see some snow during the month."

Hillaker cited April 1997 as a memorable month for snowfall in Ames. That month, Ames recorded 1 inch of snow on the 10th, 1.5 inches of snow on the 11th, and 3.8 inches on the 12th. That was the week before Veishea 1997.