The slide is built in Schreiber Gym in preparation for the 98th Foresters' Ball this weekend – and it's ready for action.

On Thursday, construction officer Luke VanderZanden confirmed the custom-built playground piece for adults is operational.

"I've done a few quality control runs," VanderZanden said.

This year, the University of Montana Forestry Club's infamous scholarship fundraiser returns to Schreiber Gym. The event makes claim to hosting the largest dance floor in Montana on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 6 and 7.

"I also like to think we're known for being a swingin' good time," said Lara Antonello, chief push and publicity officer.

The dance pole may get people swingin' performances for their free dinners, sodas and Red Bulls, she said.

"Nothing in life is free, so you've got to do something for your dinner and for your beverage," Antonello said.

The past three years, the dance party was held at the Adams Center. Antonello, though, said the site was too big and too pricey, and alumni are delighted at the return to Schreiber.

The old mining town of the Wild West was emerging in the gymnasium on Thursday afternoon. Log cabin building fronts stood around the perimeter of the village, which requires some 20 trailer loads of "slabs" to build – slabs being "the unused sides of a tree cut off to square logs."

In the past, the event earned a reputation for being too raucous and contributing to excessive drinking on campus. In 2012, UM President Royce Engstrom called on the ball to reform and become educational – or shut down altogether.

The show did go on, however, and this year, the ball includes dancing by night with Shane Clouse and Stompin’ Ground, and by day, an educational opportunity for families.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the ball hosts a free Community Forestry Day, said Alex Williams, a College of Forestry and Conservation alumnus who served as chief push in 1988. He said the event is designed especially for children and families to learn about the natural world.

Williams also said participants must be sober to get in the door on Friday and Saturday night. Ticket holders won't be forced to use breathalyzers – despite rumors – but organizers won't let inebriated party-goers inside.

"You don't need to be drunk to have a good time," Williams said.

The ball anticipates selling 1,000 tickets each night, Antonello said. The advance ticket price is $18 for a single, $32 for a double, available at griztix.com.

Each night, the party runs from 7 p.m. to midnight, with doors closing to new entrants at 10 p.m.

In the past, scholarship recipients have received awards from $200 to $1,000, Antonello said. Student construction workers are eligible for the scholarships.

It's a good cause, to be sure, but on Williams' mind was the good time.

"We've got a live band and the biggest dance floor in Montana for a couple nights," he said.

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Reporter for the Missoulian