On a day sweltering with 100 degree heat, the only thing hotter than the weather was the performances at last Friday’s Bicentennial celebration. Emceed by Power 107.5’s Big Man Konata, the event took place from 6-9pm at Genoa Park. Step teams representing fraternities and sororities from the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) stepped hard and sweated harder for a chance at $10,000 in cash and prizes.
Seven of the nine NPHC fraternities and sororities were represented at Friday’s event: Phi Beta Sigma, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho, Zeta Phi Beta, Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, and Iota Phi Theta. One of the hallmarks of NPHC or “Divine 9” Greeks is a tradition known as stepping. Stepping is a “rhythmic form of communication” that involves precision and unity among members and requires an extensive amount of practice to perfect.
Fellow members of Divine 9 organizations served as judges, who scored teams based on performance, originality, and creativity. The title of the event, “S.T.O.M.P.’N. To the Ballot,” stands for “Stepping To Overcome Major Problems Now” and nearly every team incorporated a social theme into their act, such as the importance of voting and teaching kids how to handle bullying. Teams displayed not only stepping during acts, but also incorporated various other elements, including history of their organizations, comedy and skits, and crowd interaction. The $10,000 prize was split between the winning fraternity and sorority. Delta Sigma Theta stomped their way to a win for the sororities, and the men of Omega Psi Phi walked away as top dogs of all the fraternities.
Though most of its members were about half the age of the other performers, the Jelani Step Team definitely held its own at “S.T.O.M.P.’N.” Jelani is a local youth step team whose members range from ages 9-12 and have competed in local competitions around Columbus.
Although stepping was the main attraction, the event served the dual purpose of getting the word out about voting. Proudly sporting his bright red Kappa Alpha Psi polo, Mayor Michael Coleman was also in attendance, representing not only the city of Columbus, but also himself as a proud member of the Divine 9 community. While on stage, Mayor Coleman stressed to the audience that it was not only their right to vote, but their civic duty as well. He emphasized that Ohio is a crucial battleground state and that citizens must make their voices heard because they will weigh heavily in the outcome of this year’s upcoming election. To lighten the mood, Coleman teased the audience with an offering of his own step moves. Microphone in hand, he stood on stage and as the crowd anxiously waited, he then joked that his moves were so lightning fast that the crowd had missed them.
“S.T.O.M.P.’N.” was one of many events this past weekend that were held in celebration of Columbus’s Bicentennial. Thursday’s events included Columbus Bicentennial Day of Service and “DJs in the Park after Dark,” featuring 8 of Central Ohio’s top DJs spinning tunes in Genoa Park. Saturday afternoon held the “Battle for Ohio!” celebrity basketball charity game, featuring former Buckeyes who went on to play professionally representing “Team Columbus” competing against pro players representing “Team Cleveland” for a $5000 charity prize. Saturday evening, Bicentennial Park was filled with tunes from the “I Am Ohio” concert featuring Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players.
200Columbus collaborated with Ohio Homecoming to help commemorate Columbus’s 200th birthday. The Ohio Homecoming movement “was designed to present a number of community-wide events to bring awareness to all of the positive things that the state has to offer, reinvigorate the citizens to aspire to greatness, and connect them with the tools to get there.” As such, it was the ideal partner to help celebrate Columbus’s 200th birthday, and Mayor Coleman agrees.
“We’re so excited to partner with Ohio Homecoming as we celebrate our city’s 200th birthday,” said Coleman. “This is the perfect opportunity to showcase our swagger, our success and youthful energy, and show all Ohioans across the state just how great Columbus is!”