MIT150: Explosive success

Toast to Tech ends sesquicentennial celebration

The MIT150 celebrations ended with a literal bang at Toast to Tech last Saturday. The event, open to the entire MIT community and guests, included champagne, ice sculptures, dancing, an impressively large cake modeled after the MIT campus, and a 12-minute fireworks show over the Charles River.

Nearly 7,000 people attended the event, about 3,000 of which were alumni returning to campus for the Tech reunions. Doors to the festivities opened at 9 p.m. though the official start of the event was 9:30 p.m. There were multiple bars with champagne, a live band, dance floor, and ice sculptures of iconic MIT symbols around Killian Court. Around 10 p.m., MIT President Susan J. Hockfield spoke briefly about the accomplishments of MIT and direction for the future. Her address was followed by a 12-minute fireworks show set off from a barge in the Charles River.

Following the fireworks, a 1000-pound cake of MIT was served to the hungry crowd. The 24-foot long, 4.5-feet high cake depicted various parts of campus — from the new Sloan Building and Stata to Simmons Hall and Kresge — and was completely edible, except for the structural components of the Green Building. The cake was cut with a saber by no other than Hockfield herself. The saber “was a suggestion of Robert Planutis, general manager of the MIT Faculty Club, who managed the evening’s catering,” said Gayle Gallagher, senior director of Institute events and MIT150. “The idea was to cut the cake with something of substance given the magnitude of the cake … and with a bit of drama.”

The cake was accompanied by 1000 blue cupcakes representing the Charles River. The cake was made by Montilio’s of Boston and took two bakers and six decorators five days to construct.

In addition, the side of the Prudential Center facing MIT lit up with lights from the 32nd to 49th floors spelling out “MIT 150” in honor of the event. According to, 86 windows were used to spell “MIT” and 99 windows spelled out “150.” It took more than three hours for over 20 people to create the message on Saturday evening.

The water main break that took out the campus water supply on Saturday night did not affect the celebrations, said Gallagher. “We had a command center in effect that evening so the appropriate campus personnel were constantly monitoring the situation and providing updates to us, which was very helpful,” Gallagher explained. “Facilities did a great job by putting signage and hand sanitizers in restrooms quite soon after the incident occurred.”

The live band and dance floor kept the celebratory feeling alive throughout the night. “I’ve gotta say that the dance floor was the most memorable part of the evening,” said Huaiying Wang ’13, an MIT Student Ambassador who volunteered at the event. “Watching members of the MIT community, whether 6 or 60, have fun and let loose was really amazing.”