How ice cream and a pub crawl create a community

February 16, 2023 — When Sarah Hibbs-Shipp ’96 thinks of community, she thinks of Grinnell.

“You have something tying a diverse group of people together that’s more than just location,” says Hibbs-Shipp. This lasting sense of community is what motivates her to organize events for Grinnell alumni.

As a regional volunteer, Hibbs-Shipp takes pride in coordinating events for fellow alumni in the Grinnell-on-the-Front Range region, which encompasses Colorado and southeastern Wyoming. Along with Julie Estlick ’92, Hibbs-Shipp organized the Fort Collins Pub Crawl, where alumni gathered to quench thirsts and socialize in late October.

Grinnell alums from Colorado during the Fort Collins Pub Crawl.
Sarah Hibbs-Shipp ’96, second from left on bottom row, poses with fellow Grinnell alums from Colorado during the Fort Collins Pub Crawl.

Attended by a group of 11 alumni, plus partners, the Fort Collins Pub Crawl began at Scrumpies, a pub specializing in hard cider. Given that Fort Collins has more than 20 local breweries, choosing which bars to frequent was quite a task for Hibbs-Shipp.

“I wanted them all within walking distance,” she said, hoping their close proximity to each other – and to food trucks, miniature golf, and an ice cream shop – would entice more alumni to stop by.

The crowd got bigger as the group moved to their next location, Equinox Brewing. Half the attendees were alumni Hibbs-Shipp hadn’t met before, and she was eager to make connections. The pub crawl ended at The Exchange, where the alums enjoyed ice cream from the in-house creamery as they reminisced about their days at Grinnell and swapped stories about their lives since.

Hibbs-Shipp believes this kind of low-key, upbeat event was an excellent chance for networking.

“You never know who you’re going to meet and learn about the incredible life they’ve had,” she says. For young alumni in particular, Hibbs-Shipp understands that more formal events can feel intimidating, and casual events like the Fort Collins Pub Crawl could be viewed as more approachable.

Ben Mead ‘02, left, chats with Jason Reynolds '94 and Mark Trocinski '99
Ben Meade ’02, left, chats with Jason Reynolds ’94 and Mark Trocinski ’99 during the Grinnell-on-the-Front Range Winter Party, which was held at High Point Creamery in Denver. 

To that end, Christine Hood ’17 and the regional planning committee hosted the Grinnell-on-the-Front Range Winter Party Jan. 21, where alums got to enjoy creative ice cream flavors at the High Point Creamery in Denver. A total of 31 alums and their family members attended the Winter Party. 

Hibbs-Shipps is the director of organizational communications at CSU STRATA, which serves the Colorado State University System with strategic real estate services, intellectual property protection and licensing, and financing activities. Estlick is the communications specialist for the Health District of Northern Larimer County while Hood is a senior instructional designer and educational technologist for the University of Denver Daniels College of Business. 

Estlick and Hood previously planned a Grinnell-on-the-Front Range outing to a Colorado Rockies baseball game in 2021. However, there hadn’t been an event in Fort Collins since before the pandemic. 

Inspiration for October’s pub crawl came from pre-pandemic brewery events hosted by Jake Joseph ’11, who upon a move to Connecticut became a regional coordinator for the Grinnell-in-Southern New England area.

Buoyed by the success of the latest Fort Collins Pub Crawl, the Winter Party in Denver, and other events in her area, Hibbs-Shipp hopes to host more events soon. She feels that hosting frequent and informal events is important for keeping the community values that define Grinnell strong among alumni.

“It’s part of community,” Hibbs-Shipp explains. “We like to give back to Grinnell, and one way to do that by having Grinnell-oriented events. It makes the world smaller.”

— by Clara Bode ’26

For your information:

Every year over 2,000 Grinnell College alumni, students, and friends attend an event hosted by a Grinnell College Regional Community. Learn more about joining a Regional Community to help plan future events in your area. 

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive and like the Alumni & Friends Facebook page.