On Saturday, February 10th, at the St Pete-Gibbs campus, SPC’s first exciting Hamilfest occurred. People of all ages gathered to celebrate the Broadway hit that took the world by storm, Hamilton, as well as the history behind Alexander Hamilton, the notorious founder of the Coast Guard, first Treasury Secretary, and author of arguably some of the most important historical documents, The Federalist Papers.
The event began with a brief history of the United States Coast Guard, which Alexander Hamilton started in 1790 after congress approved his idea for a small fleet of ships to ensure trader ships would have protection. Today, the Coast Guard performs many tasks from search and rescue missions to routine checks on ships to serve and protect the American people. For 228 years, the Coast Guard has been protecting the United States due to Hamilton’s original pitch.
During a brief break, fans of the popular musical had an opportunity to grab a bite to eat from a food truck outside and explore interactive lawn activities, which further taught about Hamilton’s complex life. In addition, vendors lined up around the music center promoting various organizations and small businesses, from steampunk costuming to the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society.
Along with the opportunity to purchase merchandise and learn more about the real Alexander Hamilton, fans took up the challenge of cosplaying their favorite characters from the musical. From Alexander himself and his wife Elizabeth Hamilton, to one of his political rivals Thomas Jefferson, creativity was not lacking from the devoted fans. When speaking to a costumed fan, they informed a small group about the hard work that went into their costume. When asked how many hours they had spent, they laughed and responded, “Months!” A costume contest was held later in the evening and every one of the cosplayers were able to showcase their extremely intricate work.
Around halfway through the event, the audience heard Gabe’s story. Gabe has a serious blood disease that puts his life at risk daily. Since he qualified for a Make a Wish experience, he and his family chose to see the Broadway hit Hamilton and explore the history behind it. They spoke of how amazing the experience was and of their immense love and respect for the man behind the musical. Shortly after his presentation of his experience, the audience met Mrs. Laurens Hamilton, a wonderful woman who married a descendant of Hamilton’s. She shared personal family photos and artifacts that are not widely available, as well as insight into their unique family tree and stories.
The event closed with a talent show, sing along, and a raffle. Katie Richardson, a devoted fan, won the costume contest with an incredible cosplay of Alexander himself. Shortly thereafter, fans gathered together in an auditorium to celebrate their love for the Broadway show that set the world ablaze. One costumed SPC student said the Hamilton community “changed my life” and “provides me an opportunity to express myself through art online and has allowed me to make incredible friends.” Finally, she went on to say that she was “incredibly grateful to be able to experience this event” and hopes that SPC will make this an annual tradition to celebrate the life and legacy of one of our most influence founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton.