Sibs for the Weekend
Family Members visit campus, take advantage of activities with big brothers and sisters
Melanie Muir, better known as Patty Cake, flipped hot pancakes to people waiting in line at the Sibling's Weekend Pancake Breakfast on Saturday at Finch Fieldhouse. Muir has been to every Sibling’s Weekend for the last 10 years and said the best part of the event is seeing kids reconnect with their college siblings while visiting the university.
Sibling’s Weekend took place Friday through Sunday at Central Michigan University. The event, which began in 1963, sees about 2,000 family members visiting each year.
The event invites family members and siblings to CMU for three days of activities — including rock climbing, laser tag, sports clinics and a carnival. The films “Zootopia,” “Moana” and “Jurassic World” were shown throughout.
Chris Cakes of Michigan, a pancake company “with an attitude" located in Clare, is known for flipping hot, buttery pancakes at their customers during Sibling’s Weekend. Chris Cakes has received multiple Guinness World Records, including most pancakes flipped in an hour as well as the highest pancake toss.
Muir spent the weekend with her family, too. Her son Nathan Smith, also known as Rum Cake, tossed pancakes to kids holding out their plates. Smith worked his way through college flipping pancakes, and to this day, works at the company.
Muir loves watching families have fun while trying to catch the flying pancakes. For her, Sibling's Weekend is special because it’s an emphasis on the family connection, and a hot plate of pancakes is the best way to connect.
The weekend was not exclusively for siblings. Once Holland junior Jenna Veldheer heard about Sibling's Weekend, she called her cousins to join the fun.
Veldheer brought her three cousins and only brother to CMU to take part in the weekend’s activities. The family spent their whole day Friday exploring the different activities at Finch.
“My cousin had been asking his mom for the last month when it was time to come up for Sibling's Weekend,” Veldheer said.
From laser tag to playing a life-size board game, the family finally made it to the rock climbing wall.
“This is so much fun, I can’t believe it,” said Veldeer’s cousin Andrew Wright, 10.
While a few of the cousins had a bit of trouble climbing the wall, Allison Wright, 13, had no problem going all the way to the top.
The family ended their night Friday by viewing the Disney film, "Moana."
Sibling’s Weekend also brought a comedy drumming act known as rePercussion to campus and closed with the Danger Circus.
RePercussion took the Plachta Auditorium stage Saturday and proved that banging on kitchen pots and pans isn't just for kids. Vince Romanelli started the comedy drumming group when he was in fifth grade and was goofing around with his friends. They participated in a talent show and kept running with the group’s momentum for the last 19 years. Dan Twiford joined the group a few years ago.
Their performance this weekend was their first on CMU’s campus.
“(CMU's) crowd was amazing,” Twiford said. “You know it’s a good show and everyone had a good time if the back row is laughing.
Romanelli said the best part of the show was the kids that just had fun with it and giggled. He said their laughter was contagious.
Cousins Rylyn, 8, and sophomore Jenna Genoff, of Deckerville, said the best part of the show was the drumming and jokes that everyone could laugh at.
Sunday provided more laughter as the Danger Circus closed out Sibling’s Weekend in Plachta. The circus composed of science freak Thom Britton, magician Keri Kazz and juggler Chuck Clark.
Britton opened the show by eating fire and ended it by putting his face on glass that was piled on the ground. In between, Kazz ate double-edge razor blades, Clark juggled on a unicycle and Britton sawed an apple in a participant’s mouth.
Grand Rapids sophomore Allison Lale and her nephew, Breydan Green, 7, and niece, Gabriella Talaski, 7, attended the circus to close out their Sibling’s Weekend.
Green and Talaski described the circus as “awesome.” Lale expressed the same sentiment about the weekend — her first Sibling’s Weekend with her niece and nephew.
“I thought it was nice for them to see where I live because they always ask me why I am always gone, but they don’t understand that I go to college,” Lale said.
Lale said Talaski and Green’s favorite event of the weekend was rock climbing, which was part of an array of activities Friday and Saturday, including laser tag, bowling and rope climbing.
Savannah LaChance, 14, climbed the ropes Friday in Finch Fieldhouse with her older brother, freshman Michael LaChance.
The two spent the day exploring the different activities available during their first Sibling’s Weekend.
“It’s been fun — laser tag has been my favorite part so far,” Savannah said.
While some students may be attending Sibling’s Weekend for the first time, other students have been bringing their family members to campus for years.
Birch Run senior Brooke Carroll has attended Sibling's Weekend for three years in a row. This year, it was time for her youngest sibling, Levi Carroll, 8, to finally visit.
The two played the life-size board game with other families and picked out prizes afterward.
“They have so much fun, even if I am just holding their backpacks,” Brooke said. “They love to see where I go to school and all of CMU’s campus.”
Amber Kemmerer spent Saturday running around with her cousins and nephew, enjoying the activities set up for Sibling’s Weekend at Central Michigan University.
"My family is really close-knit," she said.
The Battle Creek sophomore spent the weekend playing with her cousins, Marshall, 7, and Fernando, 4, and her nephew Bentley, 4. This was her second Sibling’s Weekend, having spent last year with her other cousins.
"Last year we took the girls," Kemmerer said. " The boys aren't scared to try things, and they're very curious."
The family spent the day with Kemmerer's roommate, Gaylord sophomore Kylee Youngs, at the carnival and teaching the boys how to play ultimate frisbee in the Student Activity Center. Kemmerer and Youngs taught the younger boys how to throw and catch while Marshall played competitively with the older students and guests.
They also spent Friday swimming and bowling, activities Kemmerer said the boys chose themselves.
"Fernando kept doing belly flops, which got everyone's attention," she said.
Stefanie Roech and her daughter Giabella, 5, showed off matching face paintings Saturday showing blue seahorses, which is Giabella’s favorite animal.
Roech graduated from CMU in 2006 and her younger sister Miranda Mudel is a junior. Roach is happy to share her alma mater with her kids and spend time with her family. She’s been bringing her three kids and niece to the weekend of activities for the last three years.
“The first time we came it was so much fun we kept coming for the last nine years,” Mudel said. “My favorite part when I was a kid was the movies because we always had slap bracelets.”
Grand Rapids junior Anya Rowe is not related to Harriet, 10, Hellen, 8, Eleanor, 6, and Eddie, 4, but she’s been their nanny since Harriet was five-years-old and Eddie was a baby. Eddie’s face was stained red from a cherry snow-cone that was served at the Sibling’s Weekend carnival Saturday.
“They’re like family,” Rowe said.
During the summer Rowe and the kids watched baseball games and practiced tennis — Harriet is an avid tennis player and said her dream is to play in college someday.
Amy and Dave Engbers, the parents, went to Spain for 12 days last summer and Rowe stayed with the kids. Helen said she feels like Rowe is family to her.
“We really miss her when she’s gone,” Harriet said.
The kids all agreed that one of their favorite memories with Rowe was making cement handprints for their mom on Mother's Day.
Harriet and Hellen had a sleepover with Rowe, while the younger kids are stayed with their parents at the Courtyard Mount Pleasant at Central Michigan University.
Rowe said she was excited to have the kids at CMU this weekend so they could see what her life is like at college.
“It was cool to put them in my environment since we’re always at their house,” Rowe said. “It was fun for them to try something new.”