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Honors Students Rise Early for Coveted Tickets

September 12, 2013

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Kevin Garvey and his friends thought they were ready for their first Ticket Tuesday about a year ago.

They would arrive at MacAlister Hall at 7 a.m., a full two hours before free tickets to an array of musicals, operas, concerts and other events in Philadelphia would become available to students in Drexel’s Honors Program. Garvey, now a sophomore, and his friends would beat the crowd and get all the tickets they wanted, they thought.

But as any Ticket Tuesday veteran likely knows, they were quite mistaken.

By the time they reached the fifth floor of MacAlister, the line for tickets reached halfway around the square-shaped hallway. And Garvey learned that you have to get up earlier than that to be among the winners on Ticket Tuesday.

Ticket Tuesday falls on the second Tuesday of each Drexel term, with the next one landing on Oct. 1. It’s when students get to cash in on perhaps one of the best perks available to the roughly 2,200 students in the Honors Program: free tickets to Broadway musicals, operas, concerts and other events in Philadelphia.

Each term, the Honors Program buys groups of tickets to these events and passes them on to interested students for free. The idea is to encourage them to expand their cultural horizons and get out and explore the city, said Carly Meluney, assistant director of the Honors Program.

“A lot of the tickets would probably be way too expensive for a college student to afford,” Meluney said.

But there are only so many tickets available, and some of the events—say, the musical “Wicked” or the opera “Carmen,” to name two recent examples—are in high demand.

And that’s why the line outside the Honors Program office may start forming at 5 a.m. or earlier when the big day comes each term.Garvey and his friends learned their lesson after their first run-through, and they were the first ones there on the morning of the next term’s Ticket Tuesday—at 4 a.m.

Now, each term, he and his friends wait in feverish anticipation at the beginning of each term, talking about Ticket Tuesday the entire first week.

“We recognize we’re taking it way too seriously, but it’s worth it,” Garvey said.

As students wait in the hallway for the tickets to become available at 9 a.m., they sit, watch Netflix on their laptops, make coffee runs and make friends.

“It’s kind of a neat way for them to meet each other,” Meluney said, “even though it’s kind of odd circumstances.”

They complain about how early they woke up and how sleepy they’ll be in their classes later that day, Garvey said, but that’s really part of the fun.

“We’re all miserable, but we’re happy about it,” Garvey said.

And, Meluney said, Pennoni Honors College Dean Dave Jones has been known to drop by while students are waiting and hand out cookies baked by his wife.

Even though they missed their first choices at their first Ticket Tuesday, Garvey said the Honors Program ticket offerings still allow him and his friends to go to a host of great events: musicals including “Catch Me if You Can” and “Wicked,” operas, the 1968 Exhibit at the National Constitution Center and performances by the Blue Man Group and the Pennsylvania Ballet.

“I’ve seen hundreds of dollars of entertainment for free,” Garvey said. Ticket Tuesdays were one of the best parts of his freshman year, he said.

And even when he couldn’t get tickets to the events he wanted, he and his friends grabbed other tickets—you can’t go home empty-handed after waiting in that line—and experienced things they never would have otherwise.

That’s a big part of the idea, Meluney said.

“If it’s free, it may entice them to try something that they wouldn’t have ever thought of,” Meluney said.

So far for the fall term, the Honors Program has ordered tickets for the opera “Nabucco” and the musicals “In the Heights” and “Flashdance,” with more to come.

Garvey is studying abroad this term, so he won’t be at the next Ticket Tuesday. But for those who will be waiting in line, he recommends arriving at MacAlister around 5 a.m. — no later than 6 a.m.