Poobas keep it all in the family

Megan Schiferl

Megan SchiferlJuice Editor

As Hobo Day approaches, the Bickel family can barely contain their excitement. Robin Bickel is third in a line of family members that has taken over the role of Hobo Day Grand Pooba.

Robin, a junior mass communications student, began planning Hobo Day last spring and has had a lot of support from her family.

Her older sister, Kasey Bickel, served as Grand Pooba for the 2004 and 2005 Hobo Days and her brother-in-law Nick Wendell, who is married to Kelly (Bickel) Wendell, served as Pooba for the 2001-2002 school year. Having an inside scoop on the happenings of Hobo Day definitely played a role in Bickel’s decision to apply for the position.

“I knew how much hard work went into everything, and I got to see how excited everyone was [about Hobo Day],” Robin said.

Though Wendell made his Hobo Day a successful event he lacked a lot of the understanding of the day as Robin did when he first applied.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into when I dove into it [being Grand Pooba]. When I was offered the role as a sophomore, I knew I couldn’t turn that opportunity down,” Wendell said.

Being Grand Pooba provides many opportunities, such as learning how to organize a large event or manage a committee, but it isn’t all sunshine and roses.

“It’s really tough to be a student and Grand Pooba,” Wendell said. “You don’t get to live the life of a normal student. It’s an all-consuming role.”

“I would sit in classes and think about all the things I could be doing,” Kasey said.

Each Pooba has an interesting story attached to their year in the role. Wendell met his wife, Kelly, while serving as Pooba.

“We really planned the event together,” Wendell said. “Though I think if you had told her mid-Hobo Week she would end up married to Nick Wendell, she would have laughed.”

Kasey as been able to apply her practical knowledge learned while Pooba to her career now. She serves a sales coordinator for the Hilton Garden Inn in Sioux Falls where she books and plans events. Kasey claims that being Pooba taught her a lot about how to deal with big events.

“I came into my career knowing more than many people because there will never be a Hobo Day without some sort of crisis.” Kasey said. “You just have to be able to pick up the pieces and move on.”

Wendell had a different take on lessons he learned.

“More than anything, I learned humility and the ability to own up to the fact that I couldn’t do it all. I had to rely on a committee.” Wendell said.

Robin remains excited about how this year’s Hobo Day will turn out.

“Planning is going well, but there will be a few hiccups, there all ways are.” Robin said. “I have a feeling that the whole week will end up being one huge adrenaline rush.”

Wendell and Kasey will both be around for support as Robin goes through her big day. As they reflect all the excitement and relationships formed through the day, they can’t help be excited for what the future of Hobo Day holds.

“It’s hard to envision what will become a new tradition, but it is important to celebrate and preserve new traditions that link students to the day,” Wendell said.

So as we enter into this Hobo Day, be on the lookout for the Bickel/Wendell group, because to them, this day may be better than Christmas.

#1.1717764:236514038.png:Pooba-Trio-Brigitte.png:Kasey Bickel, Robin Bickel and Nick Wendell gather at the intersection of North Campus Drive and Medary Avenue, known as Pooba corner.:Collegian Photo by Brigitte Norby