Mom’s Weekend at Ohio University is thought to be a time of bonding and family fun, a time for moms to visit their children and spend some quality time. For male bartenders and bouncers in Athens, however, Mom’s Weekend can be a nightmare.
Day Williams, former bouncer at The Over Hang, 63 N. Court St., graduated from OU in 2019. He worked at the bar for about two years and worked two previous Mom’s Weekends.
In addition to stories from his dad, another OU alumnus, Williams said he was warned about how crazy visiting parents can get at the bars.
“I was kind of ready for anything,” Williams said. “I guess at OU, when you hear the term ‘things might get rowdy,’ you’re kind of like, ‘This is college. It’s rowdy already.’”
While Williams never engaged with any of the moms outside of work, he said the women can get pretty chaotic.
“Moms during Mom’s Weekend can get really rowdy, and they get really frisky,” Williams said. “I remember I had one mom who took my towel that I used to wear around my hip while I’d walk around the bar waiting. She took it, (wrung) up my towel, and started hitting me in the butt with it.”
During his experiences working Mom’s Weekend, Williams said he experienced sexual harassment from many women but felt he could control the situation most of the time. In most instances, a mom would flirt with him or try to get his attention, he said.
“I’ve never had anything that was off or that made me extremely uncomfortable,” Williams said. “It was always situations where I was usually able to control it.”
One instance, however, a mom sat on Williams’ lap and continuously hit on him. After refusing to leave, Williams’ boss at the time kicked the woman out of the bar, he said.
These instances of harassment and sexual harassment are common experiences for other bouncers in Athens on Mom’s Weekend.
Tom Coughlin, a senior studying finance, started working at Courtside Pizza, 85 N. Court St., in January 2018 as a bouncer. He has worked three previous Mom’s Weekends and said many moms have flirted with him but never got out of control besides one instance.
“I was slapped my freshman year because I wouldn’t let a mom in on the patio,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin said the mom ended up walking away, and he did not have to call authorities.
Although Williams’ and Coughlin’s experiences were chaotic, another bouncer explained a more tame experience.
Jake Fritz, a senior studying sports management and marketing, started working as a bouncer at Broney’s Alumni Grill, 7 W. Carpenter St., in January 2021. While the 2021 Mom’s Weekend was canceled due to COVID-19, many moms still came to campus for an unofficial weekend.
Fritz said after the unofficial weekend was announced on social media, the staff of Broney’s had a meeting to discuss the details of the event. He was warned by co-workers about how crazy visiting moms can get.
“(My boss) was like, ‘At the end of the day, when parents come visit, they’re the ones that are going to tip the bartenders better,‘’’ Fritz said. “‘They’re going to be the ones that are spending more money in the bar.’”
Fritz said despite working long hours, he loved working the weekend because of how fun it was interacting with the moms. He did, however, mention many moms flirted with him throughout the night.
“I would say, realistically, probably one out of every five or 10 moms that came in would get a little touchy with you, call you handsome, stuff like that,” Fritz said. “And a lot of it was pretty innocent … but there were definitely a few moments where I was like, ‘OK, I hope this woman walks away from you right now because I’m getting a little uncomfortable.’”
Jestingly titled “Milf Fest,” this year’s Mom’s Weekend will take place Friday through Sunday. As former bartenders and bouncers look back to past events, current bar workers look forward to the wild weekend to come.
Fritz said this upcoming Mom’s Weekend may get out of control due to the lack of COVID-19 restrictions.
“This is the first Mom’s Weekend in two (or) three years where you don’t have to be sitting down at a bar at all,” Fritz said. “And so I think that adds an interesting element to the mix.”
Mitchell Samas, a junior studying sociology-criminology, started working at Red Brick Tavern, 14 N. Court St., in January 2021 as a server and bouncer. He now works as a bartender and will work this upcoming Mom’s Weekend.
Samas said he has heard rumors about how “rambunctious” the moms can get but how the moms will most likely tip more than regular college students. He also said while he has never worked a Mom’s Weekend, he has worked previous Parents’ Weekend to pull experience from.
“Parents’ Weekend’s more a little laid-back,” Samas said. “I know sometimes stuff goes a little crazy. Every once in a while, some drunk dad or something will start stuff with another person but nothing too crazy.”
Despite Samas never experiencing a Mom’s Weekend, other bouncers and bartenders’ experiences are extreme.
Williams said there is a stigma between men and women who experience sexual harassment, and it might influence people not to tell their stories.
“I think in terms of the world, typically, when it comes to a man experiencing sexual harassment, a lot of people don’t tend to listen to them,” Williams said. “I think, typically, when you’re a man who experiences something like that, it’s also pretty hard for you to come forward just because of the stigma.”
Williams also said the chaotic pattern of moms during Mom’s Weekend contributes to the stigma against men coming forward when sexual harassment occurs.
“I do think that a lot of moms continue this stigma,” Williams said. “But it’s just interesting because they’re moms. So, it’s kind of like, ‘Shouldn’t you be the first person to not believe the stigma?’”
While there are many possible safety concerns, Fritz said working on Mom’s Weekend was his favorite shift at Broney’s. He said, however, all bouncers and bartenders must prioritize their job over the fun.
“You got to stay focused,” Fritz said, “So, just making sure that you’re balancing your responsibilities of your job and having fun is the biggest part of it.”
As for the moms visiting for the weekend, Williams' biggest advice is to act responsibly.
“I would just say don’t do to someone else what you would not want them to do to your child,” Williams said. “If you would feel uncomfortable seeing something you’ve done to a person who you’ve birthed, maybe take that as a lesson as ‘I shouldn’t do that either.’”