When people think of a ball-pit, they usually imagine elementary school children running around in a McDonald’s play palace. Yet students were there, about two feet deep in a ball-pit on Fairfield Way, as part of “Local Eats and Local Beats,” a festival held Saturday afternoon on Fairfield Way, by WHUS and Husky Records.
Along with free performances from local bands like rock group “Fat Randy,” there was free food given out by local businesses. DP Dough gave out free mini-calzones, while the Haru Aki Cafe delivered bubble tea and Moe’s Southwest Grill served free burritos.
“We just wanted to have a chill afternoon with sunshine, free music and free food,” Danielle Chaloux, WHUS assistant marketing director and 4th semester French major said. She also said the event was funded by UConn and completely free for students.
“Local Eats and Local Beats” is one of many student activities over Spring Weekend. Chaloux said that students participating in Spring Weekend were also invited to skydive Saturday morning, as well as participate in bubble soccer Friday night, amongst other events.
“I think it’s important to show students that you don’t have to drink or do anything illegal to have fun,” Chaloux said, when asked about how she plans to change perceptions of what students do on Spring Weekend.
When asked about the police presence around the event, Chaloux laughed. “I personally didn’t really notice it,” she said, stating she simply wanted students to have fun in a safe environment.
Not everyone shared her optimism. “Fat Randy” band member and 6th semester psychology major Stephen Friedland said he thought the university’s rules on Spring Weekend were overbearing. He cited the use of identification wristbands, police checkpoints on campus and restricting travel into and out of Storrs.
“It is kind of annoying to deal with and I understand they can’t afford anything bad happening to students,” Friedland said, mentioning that a consequence of illegal activity could be a lawsuit for the university. “And as we know, UConn is a money-first institution.”
However, Friedland said that despite their presence, he still enjoyed his experience with Spring Weekend and looked forward to seeing it grow in the future.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been involved on campus this weekend and I really enjoy performing in front of people I know and with my band,” Friedland said. “It’s nice to use music as an outlet without compromising my own safety.”
Avery Ellis, a sixth-semester maritime studies major, said he didn’t mind police being around and that he thought this year’s Spring Weekend was a huge improvement from year’s past. Having lived in Mansfield for a while, Ellis also said he didn’t remember there being as many things to do during Spring Weekend in the past.
“I’m glad that they seem to be making an effort in pleasing and entertaining students,” Ellis said. “I actually think the event grows every year.”
This year, it certainly looked like it was thriving.