“Work and Talk”: The Man Behind Usdan’s Annual Halloween Display

When The Argus approached Mike Misenti to learn more about the Halloween display he was creating in Usdan, Misenti requested that he “work and talk.” You might have seen his final product, a display of delicious cakes and crumbles arranged in a “War of the Worlds” theme, on your way into Usdan on Wednesday, but it started out as just a couple of pieces of cardboard and some icing. Misenti worked on the project for hours in order to have it ready for dinner at 5 p.m., which included the addition of some pieces that he had been building for days in advance.

Misenti said that he has been creating displays and decorations on Halloween for about 14 years now, at his previous place of work and now at Usdan, but he does his best to change it up a little bit every time.

“I like doing something different every year because it gets boring to do the same thing,” Misenti said. “I did a pirate thing last year, and this year I’m doing ‘War of the Worlds’ because it’s actually the 80th anniversary of when that happened on the radio.”

For those unfamiliar with the name “War of the Worlds,” it refers to a radio broadcast created by Orson Welles. Though the broadcast was intended to be a radio drama, it took the form of music interspersed with the voices of newscasters reporting that the world was being attacked by aliens; as you can imagine, many people believed this was a real newscast. Chaos ensued.

Misenti said he chose this theme because it reminds him of his childhood, when the original “War of the Worlds” broadcast would often air on or around Halloween. His display featured aliens and spaceships surrounding the large pieces of cake and crumble that represented land and cities.

Aiti Rai ’20, who also works in Usdan, said she heard about Misenti’s project when he asked her to come in early one morning instead of her normal shift, so that he could spend time working on his project.

“I had a lot of homework, I was tired and honestly, Halloween is not my favorite thing,” she said. “I never celebrate. But how could I deny it when he was dedicating his time for [the students]?”

When Rai found out about Misenti’s Halloween decorations, she was so appreciative of his efforts that she posted pictures of him to the WesAdmits Facebook group, reminding students to thank him for all his hard work.

Despite all the extra time it takes out of his day, Misenti said he works hard to build these Halloween creations because he loves to make the students happy. And between the spooky theme and delicious desserts involved, Misenti clearly has a pretty good idea of how to make Wesleyan students smile.

With the opportunity to give back to the students and the excitement of it all, as you might have already concluded, Halloween is by far Misenti’s favorite holiday.

“It lets everyone be a kid, and no one criticizes anyone for doing it,” Misenti said. “It’s 24 hours you can be a kid without ever being made fun of.”

As long as the world does not come under attack by aliens any time soon, Misenti said he has some pretty big plans for the future, which continue in the spirit of putting kids first.

“I’m actually trying to get a gluten-free restaurant going, where the profit goes to after school programs,” he said. “I haven’t had any luck yet, but I’m trying to get one going.”

As one of the first to point out Misenti’s commitment to others, Rai said she is excited for more people to learn about Misenti so that his work to make Halloween fun and exciting can be appreciated.

“I think it is important to recognize people who do things for us selflessly,” Rai said. “Lastly, we should thank Bon Appétit and its members because they also had a role in making this happen.”

Even though the “War of the Worlds” dessert creation seemed to appear in a poof of holiday magic, don’t hesitate to say thank you to the Halloween master himself, Mr. Misenti.

 

Emma Smith can be reached at elsmith@wesleyan.edu.

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