Centennial Update: Nanepashemet Lodge unleashes its banquet and centennial theme show

By Nicholas Goldrosen

“Unleash the Spirit Within.” This is the theme that Nanepashemet Lodge of Northeastern Massachusetts will celebrate when Arrowmen convene in Billerica, MA for its annual banquet. The event, a work of the lodge’s banquet, communications and cooking teams, features not only a traditional lodge banquet and celebration, but also a theme show, which is a multimedia show months in the works.

Nanepashemet Lodge Chief Robert McLaughlin said that the tradition of the banquet and theme show dates to the 1980s to one of Nanepashemet’s predecessor lodges, Wannalancit Lodge. The banquet was originally conceived, McLaughlin said, as a way to get everyone in the lodge involved in a single event. It was all run by Arrowmen: cooking, shows and other program, providing a way for each brother to get involved. The banquet and theme show took a hiatus for several years, and was then resurrected by Nanepashemet in 2005.

The planning process for the banquet and theme show is a long and involved one. Tom Derrivan, the lodge’s activities sachem who supervises the banquet committee, noted that it is a massive effort to coordinate all the logistics. “We first pick our banquet chairman and adviser, and then we set the theme, which is chosen by the lodge chief, find a location, coordinate with the communications block to work on the show and get to work” he said.

This year’s theme was selected by McLaughlin with the intent that it would get Arrowmen to “unleash their own thing.” “I hope it will encourage every Arrowman, especially younger ones, to find a  way to get involved and to do something in the OA,” he said. He also noted the significance of this theme in reference to the Order’s centennial: “It sends the message that ‘we’ve done it for 100 years, let’s keep doing it,’ and that involvement is what we need to keep it going.” He also said that the theme was not just for the banquet, but also represented the direction he wanted to take the lodge in as chief.

The location ­finding process began about five months prior to the event, McLaughlin noted, and they encountered several issues with finding a cost­effective venue early on, which delayed promotion a bit. The lodge then promoted for about six weeks through postcards, newsletters and social media. The show was then cast and scripted by the holiday season and filmed in the time before the banquet.

The theme show aspect makes the banquet particularly unique. The filmed show, arranged by members of the lodge communications block, focuses on the banquet’s theme. This year it will incorporate aspects of the centennial celebration. “Having an awesome theme show is something that’s known in this lodge. The Key Foundation, our summer camp’s foundation, lets us use their great A/V equipment for it, and it always turns out excellent,” Derrivan said. Indeed, McLaughlin said the theme show was “better than it’s ever been.”

Nanepashemet’s banquet and theme show is a unique opportunity for the lodge to involve all of its membership in planning a unique event, both Derrivan and McLaughlin pointed out. With the centennial of the Order of the Arrow this year, and the theme of “Unleash the Spirit Within,” expectations are high for the 2015 event. McLaughlin said of the thematic message, “You yourself can find your own way to make the world a better place ­­ that’s pretty awesome.”

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