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Shock Top End of the World Party

(21 Dec 2012: Greenbrier Resort and Spa — White Sulphur Springs, WV)

There are a few perennial questions that every well-adjusted person reflects on at some point in their lives. Some of them are of a philosophical or theological nature, like What is the nature of the self? Or, what will happen to me when I die? Other important questions may be historical or cultural. What would I do with millions of dollars if I won the lottery? The answers to these questions supposedly tell us something about our interior selves – our beliefs, our hopes, our desires.


The end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012 implored many of us to consider how we’d spend our last hours on Earth. Fortunately for the five hundred or so people that attended the end of the world party sponsored by Shock Top, they didn’t have to think about their answers too hard. From Thursday, December 20 to Sunday, December 22, Shock Top hosted a party just in case things went wrong for humanity at the Greenbrier Resort and Spa in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Tucked in the heart of the Appalachians, the Greenbrier is a beautiful resort that has over a century under its belt.


This party definitely wasn’t inspired by a Doomsday Preppers episode. Shock Top substituted stockpiles of water and food for thousands of bottles of beer and tons of fun. Throughout the weekend, “Designated Survivors” that were affiliated with Shock Top were also able to take part in adventures that would supposedly prepare them for Earth post-apocalypse. From zip-lining and ATV off-roading to zombie 5k, participants could enjoy the beautiful outdoors of southern West Virginia. Others who weren’t so keen on getting dirty had the opportunity to gamble at the resort’s casino or get treated to the award-winning spa at the Greenbrier.


Those who attended the event ran the gamut. Some had simply put their name and contact information in a box. Some had won a trivia tournament sponsored by Shock Top. Others were distributors that had sold Shock Top at high-volume to stores and bars. Regardless of their reason for being at the party, everyone seemed to take the end of the world as an opportunity to have fun with a beer company picking up the tab.


Kelly Buchanan from Bridgeport, West Virginia, said that although it was her first time staying at the Greenbrier, she would “go back in a heartbeat.” Although Buchanan was hired as a promotional model, the twenty-one year-old that attends Fairmont State University in Fairmont, West Virginia, found plenty of time to enjoy her stay at the resort. She found the service by the hotel staff to be unmatched and said that she was treated like a “rock star” throughout her stay at the resort. 


Giving five hundred strangers an unlimited supply of beer for two days straight might seem like a liability, but the crowd managed to let loose without totally going off of the rails (there were, of course, waivers to be signed before any of the guests would go on adventures). Moreover, there was plenty of food to soak up the free Shock Top and keep everyone on even keel.


As if a four course “last meal” weren’t enough, Friday night included a dance party held in a bunker at the Greenbrier that was constructed for Congress in case of an evacuation from the District of Columbia during the Cold War. After some warming up by DJs Joe Vega and Clifton Sparks, Reverend Run from the iconic hip-hop group RUN-DMC graced the party people with his presence for just over an hour. Running through a mix of his own material with newer pop tunes, the good Reverend kept the party going until around 2am before a slew of danced-out partiers full of Shock Top retired to their posh rooms at the resort.


There’s no doubt that a few of those attending Shock Top’s End of the World bash secretly wished the world would have ended. It isn’t everyday that one gets to be pampered and treated like royalty all on someone else’s dime.

Dan Mistich is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Georgia. In his spare time, he enjoys playing trivia, reading and traveling (mostly by himself in a car with the radio turned up too loud). In addition to other scholarly works, Dan has published book reviews in Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Rhetoric & Public Affairs and the Journal of Popular Culture. His twin brother, Dave Mistich, also writes for PopMatters. You can follow Dan on Twitter (@drmistich) or send him an email (dan.mistich@gmail.com).


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