President Danko’s Halloween open house

President Danko shares the gift of his company for this season’s festivities. Photo by Lauren Hough


The leaves have fallen, the pumpkins are beginning to rot and it is finally time to review what defined your spooky season. Although spending time with family and friends is great, it’s not unlikely that many of us are reminiscing about the parties that elevated our respective Octobers. This brings us to a relevant inquiry — what makes a truly great party? 

Every year — excluding, of course, the scariest COVID years — President Jim Danko throws a Halloween open house in the esteemed presidential house. This is a party with all of the makings for a rager: an open invite for all Butler students, professional catering and the figurehead of Butler University himself. This brings me to an incredibly important and not-at-all unnecessary question for all of us to ponder together: was President Danko’s party a flop? In order to determine this, I have devised four categories that I believe together contribute to the success of each Halloween party.

Photo by Lauren Hough


You walk into a room — what’s the first thing you notice? For me, it’s always the visual elements of the space. While there were some cute museum-esque signs letting me know where I was allowed to roam without being expelled, I was genuinely underwhelmed by the house’s general ambiance.

Sophomore pharmacy major Addyson Stallman was equally unimpressed with the interior design.

“I feel like [the Halloween decorations] were pretty traditional,” Stallman said. “I felt like it could be more decorated for Halloween.”

Another uniquely Halloween-inspired element of decor is dependent upon the guests of this event. While costumes were optional, some students still decided to get into the holiday spirit. With this in mind, I was disheartened to find that President Danko was wearing khakis and a Butler quarter zip.

Luckily, Butler University President Danko was happy to go on the record to make sure that the Butler community appreciated his costume. 

“Normally … after dark, I do turn into a bat,” Danko said. “So what I decided to do is to disguise myself as a casual president.”

Photo by Lauren Hough


The second part of a party, once you’ve already arrived and judged your gracious hosts’ ample wood paneling and mystery hole in the floor — it might have been for vacuuming in the olden days or perhaps an air duct, I am still unsure — is about what you’re supposed to do at said party. 

Although the flier vaguely alludes to “games,” it did not inform me that everyone I knew tangentially would be in attendance. Luckily — after a good 20 seconds of moderate socializing with acquaintances from every possible part of my social circle — I was able to acknowledge some other activities available for attendees. 

There were a couple of lawn games, a station to color some wooden Halloween decorations and — most importantly — a coveted photo op with the man of the hour. 

First-year criminology major Matthew Zeztl was one of the lucky students who seized the opportunity to pose with the president. Although Zeztl found Danko to be very nice, he was heartbroken over one particular interaction.

“I thought it was pretty funny because they all wanted to sorority squat, and he [said no],” Zetzl said. “I got to join the band of sorority squats. He stood in the back row.”

I personally skipped the photo and instead opted for nervously listening to The Butler Collegian photo section editor Lauren Hough make small talk until I worked up the courage to ask President Danko for an interview. If you’re not into having a major anxiety episode, don’t fret —  either activity works great.

Photo by Lauren Hough


Now, let’s all be honest with ourselves. Ambiance is lovely, but the most important parts of any event are the food and drinks. In this regard, the open house was plentifully stocked with a myriad of options, including gluten-free and vegan dishes. I myself took advantage of the hot cocoa — which was excellent — and some sort of apple pastry, which made me wish I didn’t have taste buds. 

Luckily, despite my limited interactions with the cuisine, Zeztl was able to fill me in with a poignant review. 

“I tried … marshmallows dipped in chocolate on sticks,” Zeztl said. “I stuck the whole thing in my mouth, and it did stick my whole mouth together … I thought it was a good marshmallow.”

Photo by Lauren Hough


Our fourth and final category is the most relevant to the seasonal aspect of this soiree: the scares. After all, what is Halloween without something to give you goosebumps? Considering that this is an integral part of the event, I was prepared to judge pretty harshly and — aside from the aforementioned panic attack when I realized I had to do my job — I did not find much to alarm me within the walls of the presidential estate. There was, of course, an obligation to socialize, but even that lost its fright at some point.

Danko, on the other hand, did see some very real terrors during the event.

“[I fear] that people won’t go home,” Danko said. “So, the scariest part is finding random children or students in the house.”

In summary, although I expect to see some changes based entirely upon this article in the coming years, I was pleasantly surprised by the commitment that the Danko family — as well as the tireless efforts of student volunteers — displayed and look forward to attending again in the future.


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