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No power, no problem for Rocky Mountain College at its annual candlelight dinner in Billings

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BILLINGS - This year's annual candlelight dinner at Rocky Mountain College had something in common with the first one - no lights powered by a switch.

An unexpected power outage plunged the room into darkness Thursday night, leaving guests to enjoy their meal illuminated only by the flicker of candles. It was a mirror image of 1910, when students faculty and staff at then named Billings Polytechnic Institute ate the school's first meal by candlelight because electricity had not yet been turned on. 

College officials said the dinner provided a chance to remember the heritage and tradition of the school's beginnings, cherished by many.

"Sometimes you need to stop and just look at the past and look at how far you've come,” said Dr. Robert Wilmouth, Rocky’s president.  “And that’s what tonight is all about. You know the hardships 125 years ago, that students and faculty went through to start this great college. The college is the oldest college. It's an anchor institution in this region. So sometimes it's nice to celebrate that heritage and that tradition."

Three alumni received special awards.

Brent Freeman from the class of ’85 received the Spirit of Candlelight.

Pete Taylor from the class of ’83 was honored as the Distinguished Alumnus.

Julio Freitas from the class of ’08 is the Outstanding Young Alumnus.

Rocky’s history goes back to 1878 with Montana Collegiate Institute in Deer Lodge.

Wesleyan College in Helena is also part of the history.

The school began as Billings Polytechnic University in 1909.

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